Richard III and the legacy of his re-discovery

Mathew Morris (pictured), Site Director for the Grey Friars Project, University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS), has written an article for the British Academy reflecting on his time working on the discovery of Richard III.

In the article Mathew explores how the discovery has taken the world by storm and the far-reaching impact it has had, noting revitalisations made to the city of Leicester off the back of the discovery including the establishment of the Richard III Visitor Centre, art galleries and plans to bring Leicester Castle back into use.

Mathew also praises the chance to work with a multitude of academic disciplines during the project, including experts in radiocarbon dating, stable isotope analysis, genetics and genealogy, osteology and forensic pathology, analysis using micro-CT scanning, facial reconstruction and more. This research has encouraged new attitudes to be taken towards late Medieval and Tudor historical sources.

He concludes by suggesting that for him as an archaeologist the discovery of the friary, the identification of buildings such as the church and chapter house, and the recovery of evidence for what they looked like, how they changed through their 300 year history and what the lives of the resident friars were like, is of great significance.

He said: "Grey Friars was an important institution in Leicester which would have played a significant role in the development of the medieval town, yet we knew next to nothing about it before the project began. It had never been excavated, few historic records survived and we were unlikely to learn more from non-archaeological sources of information. Now, for the first time, a big blank area on the map of medieval Leicester is being filled in."

Mathew will be speaking at a British Academy Panel Discussion on the subject of The Skeleton in the Car Park: Richard III and the legacy of his re-discovery on Thursday 12 March.

A free day of family-friendly activities celebrating the University of Leicester’s research, discovery and identification of Richard III will be held on Saturday 21 March. Free interactive and hands-on workshops and talks take place from 10am – 4pm at the University of Leicester campus and the experts involved in the discovery and identification of the remains will be available to speak to media about their work. For more information, see a list of events here or contact to arrange media interviews.