University of Leicester – King Richard III Open Day (21 March 2015)

On the day before the Procession of Richard III, the University of Leicester held a family open day for visitors to take part in hands-on activities and attend lectures held by those involved in the discovery and identification of the lost king, who was unearthed in Leicester in 2012.

I personally wanted to hear from the people who had appeared in the Channel 4 documentary ‘The King In The Car Park’. So my first lecture for the day was spent listening to Dr Jo Appleby, who examined the skeleton before and after its removal from the car park where it was discovered. Jo presented an engaging talk – discussing interesting details that the skeleton yielded.

Along with another IVC member, I then attended talks from the archaeological side of the discovery – with Dr Richard Buckley (now an OBE) giving the background to the historical development of Leicester and the Grey Friars church. Next was Mathew Morris, who actually found Richard’s skeleton on Day 1 of the 2012 dig – although the skeleton was not properly examined for another week and a half, whilst the team made sure that they were digging in the right place. They had to identify that the site was indeed that of the Choir within Grey Friars, where Richard was recorded as having been buried. Their dedicated work confirmed that it was.

After lunch, we attended one more lecture – ‘Bloodline’ – which was hosted by geneticist Turi King, and co-panelled by Wendy Duldig, and Michael & Jeff Ibsen (all three of whom are directly descended along female lines from Richard III’s sister, Anne). They gave their perspectives on how the discovery of the King, and the subsequent involvement with the university and media, had impacted upon them. Michael also discussed the coffin that he had made for Richard – which would be on public display for the first time for the Procession.

Generally, this was a well-attended and engaging day with lots to see and hear.

Carl

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