Grant me the carving of my name
April 19, 2017 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Hey guys, you know about that rule in archeology that says never go looking for a specific thing, and especially don't go looking for famous people because you'll almost NEVER find them?? Well, we think we may have found the grave of Richard III under your car park, maybe under a spot marked “R” on the asphalt. May we excavate?


Now if only we could find a living body-double with the same type of uncorrected scoliosis as Richard; we could make a custom suit of armor for him, train him to ride & use weapons like a lance and warhammer. Then we could see what having that condition would mean for an armored knight on the battlefield at the end of the Wars of the Roses. But we must have blown all our luck points on finding Richard’s bones. There’s no way we’d get that lucky a second time.

Richard III was laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral. The eulogy was read by Benedict Cumberbatch. Also, Tobias Capwell's lecture "Richard III: The Scoliotic Knight. Capwell was one of the armored knights who escorted the King’s remains on his final journey.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey (29 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
previously (but not a double)
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:42 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]

I will never not be amused that Richard was the first body they found while digging, and they said 'it can't be him, that would be way too easy!'
posted by tavella at 12:42 PM on April 19 [12 favorites]

as a Medievalist with a soft spot for Richard III I never thought I would see the day he would be found. I look forward to viewing this!!!
posted by supermedusa at 12:50 PM on April 19

You had me with just how essentially English this was until Benedict Cumberbatch. That was the point where I knew you were making this up like an England Mad Libs.
posted by Etrigan at 12:51 PM on April 19 [14 favorites]

The first one to make the inevitable "I've got a hunch it's him" crack is now buried under the same car park. (Shovel, thwack, bury bury bury, "This part's all done! You can go ahead with the asphalt here! Thank you!")
posted by pracowity at 1:00 PM on April 19 [22 favorites]

I will never not be amused that Richard was the first body they found while digging, and they said 'it can't be him, that would be way too easy!'

They didn't pay enough attention to the old ballads, I guess: 'but bury [the liege-lord] at the top, for [he] was of noble[st] kin.'
posted by jamjam at 1:37 PM on April 19 [10 favorites]

It wasn't even that he was on top, they just started a trench across part of the car park to get an idea of where the walls of the priory were, and 5m meters into a 30m trench they uncovered his legs, and duly covered them over and went on with their multi-week plan to figure out the layout of the priory and where the choir was... and then two weeks later they said "Huh. That body is in the choir, maybe we'll uncover the rest..." They found him the morning of the first day and could have wrapped it up by evening tea. Not that they would, since figuring out the layout of the priory and more information about it was also part of their goals separate from Richard. But really, that's archaeology voodoo.
posted by tavella at 1:56 PM on April 19 [8 favorites]

People may like this link too: Great Lives, Richard III - it's Philippa Langley, the fundraiser of the excavation, talking about him. It's a BBC wireless programme but downloadable so I hope that means available in countries other than the UK.

I can also recommend the book The Bones of a King: Richard III Rediscovered.

And BBC History Magazine has done some good podcasts about R III. I haven't heard them all but the Chris Skidmore (MP) one was interesting.
posted by paduasoy at 2:05 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]

As someone with severe scoliosis I'm pretty disappointed that I probably don't have a career in armored hand-to-hand combat.
posted by AFABulous at 2:15 PM on April 19 [10 favorites]

I feel I've posted much the comment before, but still:

I grew up in Leicester, and as a kid the joke was always that he was buried under the traffic lights next to the Holiday Inn...

...which was about 400 yards away from the burial place found 30 years later.

Anyway, the lucky a second time video is amazing.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 2:29 PM on April 19 [13 favorites]

And another link - Rex Factor podcast has just announced that an animated series is being made of their reviews of monarchs. The first one is going to be about R III and gives them an opportunity to update the episode they made in 2011, before the excavation. There's a teaser up for the animation but it has no R III content.

(Sorry if I'm throwing too many links in, I get over-excited on the topic - former member of R III Society.)
posted by paduasoy at 3:01 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]

The spot was already marked with an "R" on the asphalt? What's up with that? Is there some sort of Da Vinci code-esque society that has been keeping the secret for all these years?
posted by chillmost at 4:29 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

So, who got to keep the armor?
posted by ckape at 4:53 PM on April 19

The spot was already marked with an "R" on the asphalt?

I'd heard originally it was a spot for compact cars. Which makes sense, really.

For the Tudors were always putting themselves above him.
posted by mephron at 5:31 PM on April 19 [30 favorites]

I recently read up on the War of the Roses (after watching the 1995 movie Richard III for some reason), and man was it a nasty sequence of events for most of the 14th century . . .

Basically my takeaway the extant nobility got liquidated to such an extent that first a Welsh house was able to take the throne, and after that died out they had to turn to the Scottish king, and when that line went Catholic (aforementioned Welsh house having established the Church of England) they had to turn to first a Dutch dude and then some random German descendant after the Dutch line failed to produce an heir (Queen Anne in there notwithstanding).
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 6:13 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]

seriously, someone get to the bottom of the R in the parking lot
posted by mwhybark at 8:05 PM on April 19

The spot was already marked with an "R" on the asphalt?

It was an R-King lot.
posted by solarion at 8:09 PM on April 19 [19 favorites]

All right, you lot, no more a' that.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:15 PM on April 19

Awww, Dominic Smee is adorable. What an adventure for him!
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:31 PM on April 19

So, who got to keep the armor?

In his lecture about the whole experience, Toby Capwell mentions that they only had enough money to complete the cuirass & the legs, but that those were the important parts because of the scoliosis issues, but also visually; Richard had smiliarly slender, almost feminine bones, and showing what that looked like in armor seemed a good use of the funds. The balance of the harness was filled out with pieces from the Royal Armory.

He then goes on to say that Dominic was raising funds to complete the suit of armor, so maybe he got to keep it. Which would be awesome. Besides, it's not going to fit anyone else, and it's incomplete. I hope Dominic does get it finished some day.

Homie gonna write a book some day about all this, and it's gonna be a hellava read.

posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:12 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]

University of Leicester insists Richard III was not found under a reserved parking spot marked R, but merely adjacent to it.
posted by ckape at 1:32 AM on April 20

University of Leicester insists Richard III was not found under a reserved parking spot marked R, but merely adjacent to it.

Count on academics to ruin a perfectly good story. Color me discontented.

On the other end of the scale (correct me if I'm wrong), Howard Carter had laid out grids on the Valley of the Kings and excavated every damn one of them until the final untested spot revealed - King Tut.
posted by BWA at 7:34 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]

On the second vid (channel 4 'Richard III: The New Evidence') at first I thought, what, they actually went to York to find a narrator? but I think that's Christopher Eccleston, isn't it (GoT is doing wonders for me being able to hear a Northern accent, and Eccleston ("everybody lives!") is quite distinctive). Anyway, nice touch, that.
posted by PandaMomentum at 9:08 AM on April 20

Well, let's parse that statement.

"Richard III’s grave was not, in fact, under a reserved parking space marked with an R."

The R's meaning and purpose was not clearly established, although it had been speculated to be a marker for a reserved spot. Certainly by the time of the dig it was not a reserved parking spot. So we can accept this statement as true without understanding it to mean that the R was not, in fact, above the grave proper.

Furthermore, the statement makes no mention of adjacency. The story from the Leicester Mercury actually says two different things. In the main body text, the copy reads "The spot where a skeleton was found in August was next to a car parking space marked with an 'R'," and is also described within the story as both exclusive to the Mercury and credited to the dig team, further confusing matters.

However, the headline reads "Richard III dig: 'R' marks the spot where skeleton found in Leicester car park". This directly contradicts the statement above. Furthermore, in the linked photo gallery, it's not clear where the body was found, although the story says, "We have marked the spot, just a few feet away, where archaeologists discovered human remains which could turn out to be those of the king." The only mark on either of the linked images is a red circle around the R.

I feel close reading here has served us well, and BWA, I hope I have recolored you.

I certainly hope an internet obsessive has pursued this to the utterest end of sensibility, or will at some point.
posted by mwhybark at 10:55 AM on April 20

So, as far as I can tell from the Leicester Mercury pictures and the video, the statement is technically correct that the body was not found under the parking spot marked by R, in that the first trench was dug down the aisle between the parking spaces and the legs were found in the trench and the additional digging to get the head and torso were in the opposite direction from the wall where the R parking spot is.

HOWEVER, whether the spot where Richard was buried ended up being marked by an R is a murkier statement. The R was not centered in the parking spot but along the edge with the aisle (and thus, approximately the edge of the trench) and it is hard to tell in the video exactly where the body lies along the trench in relation to the R, but from the signs on the wall it does seem to be within a parking spot's width of where the R was.
posted by ckape at 2:06 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]

Of course, now I've gone down this rabbit hole when all I really wanted to do was verify that there wasn't something silly like every parking spot being marked R.
posted by ckape at 2:06 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]

« Older Little boxes / on the game sprite / little boxes /...   |   Screenings for Canadian Values Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments