Richard III: Is This The Skull Of Dead King?

David Crabtree, Midlands Correspondent

Archaeologists are revealing whether battle scarred remains excavated from beneath a council car park in Leicester are that of King Richard III.

Experts have hinted at compelling evidence that suggests an historic breakthrough has been made.

Officials from the University of Leicester have released the first image of the skull, unearthed during a three week dig, from what is believed to have been the choir of Greyfriars Church.

Historical records show the long-lost church was the burial site of the monarch, following his brutal death at the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

The remains were discovered on day one of the excavations.

Archaeologists are announcing the results of the investigations in front of more than 140 journalists from across the world.

They have produced a three dimensional image of the body including a facial reconstruction.

Dr Jo Appleby, from the University's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, led the exhumation of the remains in September 2012.

He said: "The skull was in good condition, although fragile, and was able to give us detailed information about this individual. It has been CT scanned at high resolution in order to allow us to investigate interesting features in as much details as possible.

"In order to determine whether this individual is Richard III we have built up a biological profile of its characteristics. We have also closely examined the skeleton for signs of a violent death."

The skeleton showed evidence of what is believed battle trauma and scoliosis, abnormal lateral curvature of the spine, signs that suggest it may be the remains of the medieval monarch.

It is not clear whether archaeologists will have the long awaited DNA results. But radiocarbon dating tests will help give clue to the time of death. Results from mineralised dental plaque will reveal information about diet, health and lifestyle.

It is understood that tests are on-going to verify the lineage of Michael Ibsen, who is thought to be descended from Richard III's sister, Anne of York. His DNA is being compared to samples extracted from the remains.

Shakespeare portrayed Richard III as a deformed tyrant. Modern historians argue that the King was the victim of Tudor propaganda. He was the last Plantagenet monarch, a Yorkist defeated in battle by Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII.

Today's news conference could help restore the reputation of one of British history's most maligned figures.

Archaeologist initially described their dig as "a long shot" - but now it seems they are on the verge of revealing the true identity of the King of the car park.

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