Richard III: are you related to the dead king?
Members of the public are being offered DNA tests to find out if they are related to the disinterred King Richard III.
A skeleton found in a Leicester car park was last week confirmed by DNA tests to be the missing remains of the king.
The remains of Richard III, who died in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, were uncovered last September in the remains of Grey Friars Church in Leicester. A council car park had been built over the site.
The archaeologist who led the investigation, Dr Turi King of the University of Leicester, is to appear at the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live exhibition later this month.
Visitors to the show will also be able to take part in a DNA test to see if they descend from Richard III.
Dr King said: “As an archaeologist it is really unusual to be given a chance to look for someone who you can actually put a name to, who isn’t anonymous but is an important historical figure with a tangible story. Sometimes it feels a bit surreal, Indiana Jones-ish even.”
Annie Dodd, of Who Do You Think You Are? Live, said: “The revelation has really touched a chord amongst the public.
“There has been so much mystery surrounding Richard III and now people are getting the chance to meet Turi, ask questions and learn how her team unearthed one of the most infamous monarchs of all time.
“Some may even be related to the King, and we will be offering DNA tests to explore this.”
Richard III’s remains are to be reburied in a ceremony at Leicester Cathedral following the discovery.
David Monteith, Leicester Cathedral Canon Chancellor, said the remains would be reinterred early next year in a Christian-led but ecumenical service.
He said that because it would have been “unheard of” for the king not to have received a formal burial at the time, he could not be buried again and so it would be a service of remembrance.
Correspondence shows Church of England has repeatedly refused to allow forensic tests on bones in Westminster Abbey
It is one of the great mysteries of English history. Did Richard III, the last of the Plantagenets, really murder the princes in the Tower as his Tudor successors, including their greatest propagandist, William Shakespeare, always alleged?
Previously confidential correspondence reveals that the Church of England, with backing from the Queen and ministers, has repeatedly refused requests to carry out similar forensic tests to those used to identify the remains of Richard III this week to see if the bones buried in Westminster Abbey are those of Richard’s two nephews.
DNA testing was refused on the grounds that it could set a precedent for testing historical theories that would lead to multiple royal disinterments. The church was also uncertain what to do with the remains if the DNA tests were negative, potentially leaving the church with the dilemma of how to manage bogus bones. Authorities also resisted on the grounds the tests could not finally establish “if Richard III is to be let off the hook”.
Tudor and Stuart histories insist that the remains contained in an urn designed by Sir Christopher Wren are those of Edward V and Richard Duke of York who were “stifled with pillows … by the order of their perfidious uncle Richard the Usurper”, as the 17th-century inscription puts it. A concerted attempt to get the urn opened was made by the Richard III Society, the group behind this week’s confirmation of Richard III’s remains, together with the BBC in 1993 and again by Channel 4 in 1995. A Home Office file shows the then dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Michael Mayne, strongly resisted both requests despite being “pressed very hard to agree” to allow the bones to be submitted to carbon dating, to match their deaths to Richard III’s reign, and DNA testing to prove their identities.
Fascinating! Read more here.
First out of Africa, first into Asia and Australia…
The first major genome analysis of Australian Aboriginal people reveals that their ancestors took part in the first human migration out of Africa.
They were the first to arrive in Asia some 70,000 years ago, roaming the area at least 24,000 years before the ancestors of present-day Europeans and Asians appeared. They were also the first to live in Australia, according to DNA results of a 90-year-old hair sample of a young man that link Aborigines to the first inhabitants of the region about 50,000 years ago.