History

King Richard III's Grave Recreated in 3-D

The fully rotatable computer model shows the skeleton of the controversial monarch exactly as it was found almost four years ago.

University of Leicester archaeologists who discovered the remains of King Richard III have created a fully rotatable computer model which shows the skeleton of the controversial monarch exactly as it was found almost four years ago in a car park.

Revealing in an immersive way the hastily dug burial of the last Plantagenet king, the interactive model was lunched on Tuesday, on the first anniversary of the procession of Richard's remains across Leicestershire and reinterment at Leicester Cathedral in 2015.

Richard III was killed in 1485 in the Battle of Bosworth, which was the last act of the decades-long fight over the throne known as War of the Roses. The king was defeated by Henry Tudor, who became King Henry VII.

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Vilified, stripped naked, slung across a horse and paraded through Leicester, Richard's corpse was buried in a poor grave. There it remained, trashed by history until his remains were discovered in 2012.

Richard, the last English king to die in battle, was solemnly reinterred on March 26, 2015 in Leicester Cathedral following one of the most unusual royal funerals in Britain's history.

The ceremonies began on March 22 when the king's lead-lined oak coffin was carried into the cathedral after a 22-mile procession. There it stayed for three days of public viewing.

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To allow everyone a detailed view of Richard III's first grave, the University of Leicester teamed up with 3D platform Sketchfab to create an accurate representation of the grave and the skeleton.

The researchers used photographs taken from multiple angles during the excavation and a sophisticated photogrammetry software.

"Photogrammetry provides a fantastic analytical tool that allows us to examine the grave from angles that would have been physically difficult or impossible to achieve during the excavation, and gives us the ability to continue to examine the king's grave long after the excavation has finished," Mathew Morris, the University of Leicester Archaeological Services site supervisor who first discovered Richard's remains, said in a statement.

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The interactive lets users zoom in, move around the grave and have a close-up view of Richard's remains, such as the distorted spine and the head in awkward position.

While exploring the burial, it becomes clear the grave was too short for the king and messily dug with sloping sides and an uneven base.

"This made it awkward for the burial party to lay the body out neatly in the grave. Instead, it was left slightly slumped on one side with the head propped up because it would not fit properly," the University of Leister said.

You can explore the grave site and exhume King Richard III on the Sketchfab website.

An image from the 3D interactive of King Richard III’s grave.

One of the most unusual royal funerals in Britain's history, that of the controversial medieval King Richard III, begins on the university campus of Leicester, a city in the center of England some 100 miles north of London. Here researchers have studied the remains of the last Plantagenet king for the past two and half years, confirming that the twisted skeleton found in a council car park in 2012 was indeed that of the medieval king.

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This is the first time the 5-foot, 10-inch golden oak coffin, made of English oak from a Duchy of Cornwall plantation, has been seen. Richard's skeleton rests inside an inner lead casket, his bones packed with unbleached linen and laid out as if articulated. The linen cloths are embroidered with boars, roses and consecration crosses so that the remains are covered "in a dignified and honorable way," the Richard III Society said in a statement. "White boars are for the 'blancs sanglier,' the badge of Richard III; white roses for his House of York; and the crosses because he was an anointed Christian king," it added.

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In front of a hushed crowd, the university bids farewell to the king with a short ceremony. All of those involved with the excavation and descendants of Richard III's family are invited to lay a white rose -- the symbol of the Yorkist king -- on top of the coffin. Here, descendants and DNA donors Wendy Duldig and Michael Ibsen (left) place their flowers. Ibsen, a Canadian carpenter, also build the coffin.

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Placed into a Jaguar hearse, Richard's coffin leaves the university to begin a final journey through the English countryside before returning to Leicester. Here, in the city's cathedral and just across the street from where his remains were located two and half years ago, Richard finally will be reburied on March 26 -- 530 years after his death in battle and at the end of a five-day celebration.

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After procuring DNA material from Richard's descendents, researchers from the University of Leicester said that taken together, the genetic, genealogical and archaeological evidence showed a 6.7 million-to-1 (or 99.99 percent) chance that the 500-year-old skeleton is the king's.

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Fenn Lane Farm is the first stop in Richard's voyage. Around this area, the largest numbers of fired roundshots from the battle in which Richard lost his life have been found. The battle was the last act of the decades-long fight over the throne known as War of the Roses. Richard was defeated by Henry Tudor, who became King Henry VII. The most important finding is the "Bosworth Boar," a solid silver, gilded badge worn by someone of high rank, such as a knight the King's household. The badge allowed archaeologists to located the marshy ground where Richard III lost his horse in that final melee, before losing his life on Aug. 22, 1485. Modern forensic examination revealed that Richard's skeleton sustained 11 wounds at or near the time of his death -- nine of them to the skull. The fatal one probably came from a sword thrust from the base of the neck all the way up into his head.

A casket is filled with soil from Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire, where he was born three years before the start of the Wars of the Roses, Middleham in Yorkshire, where he lived, and Fenn Lane Farm, where he died. Representing the king's passage through life, the blessed earth will be scattered into the tomb during the reinterment ceremony. The coffin was dressed by staff from the Bosworth Battlefield Center with specially crafted cloth. Descendants Wendy Duldig place a wreath of white roses and planta genista on the coffin. Michael Ibsen crafted not only the coffin, but also the soil casket.

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The Jaguar hearse's next stop is Dadlington, where hundreds of the dead from both sides lost their lives. They lie buried in the village churchyard. Rose petals were scattered in memory of those unnamed soldiers who fought and died.

After a brief stop at Sutton Cheney, where Richard is believed to have heard his last mass before the battle, the procession arrives at the Bosworth Heritage Center. During the ceremony, the coffin is taken out of the hearse and pulled on a bier up to the sundial by a group of army cadets. Here Richard is honored with a 21-cannon salute.

A tribute of white roses awaits King Richard. More than 35,000 people line the streets of Leicester to mark the final journey of King Richard III. Many grip white roses, ready to throw at the coffin as it passes.

King Richard III's remains enter Leicester at Bow Bridge. The entry is in stark contrast to his return as a dead and defeated monarch, ignominiously slung across the back of a horse. "We welcome King Richard back to Leicester," mayor Peter Soulsby says. "No longer slung across a horse but now greeted by us with dignity and honor due a king of England. King Richard may you rest in peace in Leicester," he adds.

Marking the medieval city boundary, Bow Bridge, over which Richard rode out to Bosworth, was demolished in 1861. It was replaced with the present bridge, featuring iron railings depicting rose and boar emblems and Richard's motto Loyaulté Me Lie (Loyalty Binds Me). Legend has it that, as prophesied, his head struck the parapet of the bridge, where his spur had hit it on the way out.

After the historic crossing, Richard's remains are brought to St. Nicholas Church, the oldest in the city, for a 10-minute service. The crowds wait in silence.

At the St. Nicholas stop, Richard III's coffin is placed on a horse-drawn carriage to start a tour of the city. The cortege follows the same route that Richard traveled before and after the Battle of Bosworth.

The cortege's arrival at St. Martin's Place outside the cathedral is the final stop of King Richard III's journey.

With the coffin approaching the cathedral's entrance, King Richard III will be formally transferred to the cathedral from the custody of the university. "There has been phenomenal worldwide interest in Richard III since our archaeologists made their astonishing discovery. We are honored to pass his mortal remains to the care of the cathedral for reinterment on Thursday," the university says.

King Richard III's last journey ends as his coffin enters his final resting place, the cathedral of Leicester. Here, the coffin will be available to view until Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, the last Plantagenet king finally will be reburied.

It's an emotional moment when Richard III’s enters the cathedral for a service of compline, the final church service of the day. The monastic office of compline is very ancient and would have certainly been known by Richard.

Watched on big screens throughout the city, the service is rich with symbolism. Richard III’s coffin is dressed with a specially designed pall, a crown and a bible printed in Richard's lifetime.

Draped over the lead-lined oak coffin by the descendants of four peers who fought both for and against King Richard at Battle of Bosworth in Aug. 1485, the black pall is beautifully decorated with an intriguing mix of images. Alongside a knight in armor and King Richard’s queen in heraldic robes are the faces of archaeologist Richard Buckley and the Dean of Leicester, the Very Revd David Monteith.

Delivering the sermon, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, calls Richard III “a child of war” who in his life “must have known little peace.” He remarks how the monarch showed his “steely ability to pursue his ambitions.” “In his day, political power was invariably won or maintained on the battlefield and only by ruthless determination, strong alliances and a willingness to employ the use of force, at times with astonishing brutality,” the cardinal says. He noted that in his short-lived reign Richard made important changes, reshaping the English legal system, developing the presumption of innocence, the concept of blind justice and the practice of granting bail rather than being held in jail. “Nevertheless, his reign was marked by unrest... . We may thank God that here political power struggles are now settled in a different manner,” Cardinal Nichols says.

More than 5,000 people visit Leicester Cathedral to view Richard III's coffin on the first day of public viewing. Snaking through the city, the line reaches its peak around noon, when visitors standing in cold weather are warned they have to face a four-hour wait and urged to stay away until tomorrow.

White roses, Richard III's Yorkist symbol, are growing at the foot of the king bronze's statue in Leicester cathedral garden. Hundreds of people are covering the statue with flowers.

Lines for a glimpse of the monarch's coffin continue for the second day as he lies in repose ahead of Thursday's final burial in a $5 million cathedral tomb.

Visitors are allowed to view the coffin for just a couple of minutes. In the cathedral's dim interior, lit by candles, the black draped coffin, perched on wooden frames, is flanked by four armed forces veterans from the Korean War.

It's the last day before King Richard III is finally buried in a $5 million cathedral tomb and people are taking the last chance for a glimpse of his coffin as the medieval king lies in repose in the cathedral. White roses are scattered everywhere.

Some pray outside the cathedral.

Others, standing in line, are offered King Richard popcorn.

The queue is closed, no more chances to view the coffin of the last Plantagent king. Richard's coffin will spend its last night perched on wooden frames in the cathedral. Thursday, the king's remains will be lowered into a specially designed tomb. Visitors will be allowed back inside the cathedral to see the completed memorial on Friday.

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King Richard III's remains were finally reburied on Thursday morning in a solemn ceremony at Leicester Cathedral. The bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens, said Richard III was given the dignity he was denied in death 530 years ago.