What a week! Leicester rose to the occasion and reburied King Richard III with style; a perfect blend of solemnity and pageantry, mixing the old and the new with dignity and honour.
I’m not one for writing a sentimental eulogy for the project that has dominated the last two and a half years of my life, but forgive me if this turns out as such. It has been a brilliant event and if asked to do it again, with the benefit of hindsight, I would jump at the chance.
Today, it still seems improbable that we succeeded in finding Richard III. Projects such as this are once in a lifetime and it has been an honour to be involved. Re-writing history is exciting and it is humbling to see how much interest people around the world have taken in our search. I’m glad we didn’t disappoint.
I’m sure this post won’t be a complete sign off of the Greyfriars Project. Even though the king’s bones are now secure beneath a beautiful new tomb in Leicester Cathedral, there is more research to be done and we still have to publish the full excavation report, something we will revisit later in the year.
If you happen to be in London between 25 March and 25 June, pop into the Science Museum to see a new exhibit revealing the latest scientific discoveries about the life, death and DNA of King Richard III, including the University’s 3D printed skeleton and a prototype coffin.
Later this year (29 June to 5 July) we will be returning to London to exhibit the project at the Royal Society’s prestigious summer exhibition.
For now, I’m going to leave you with a few links to stories and videos which may have been missed in the deluge of world wide media coverage. After Easter we will resume normal service, showcasing a wealth of new and exciting sites that ULAS staff have been working on.
- Amongst Channel 4’s coverage some might have missed Marie Ashby’s excellent Inside Out Special – Return of the Lost King (available on BBC iPlayer for 22 days as of this post).
- I was recently asked by the British Academy to reflect on the legacy of the discovery of Richard III, you can read what I wrote here.
- If you would like to watch the ceremony marking Richard III’s departure from the University of Leicester, you can find it in full here.
- As Channel 4 opted not to broadcast the Reveal service, you can find it in full here as well as an excellent image gallery of the week and a film about the making of the tomb.
- We were rather taken by this story – An Obituary for an oak: From the backwoods to Richard III’s coffin.
Finally, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, commissioned by Leicester Cathedral and read by Benedict Cumberbatch during the Service of Reinterment on Thursday 26 March, 2015, a lovely summation which captured the essence of the week beautifully.
My bones, scripted in light, upon cold soil,
a human braille. My skull, scarred by a crown,
emptied of history. Describe my soul
as incense, votive, vanishing; your own
the same. Grant me the carving of my name.
These relics, bless. Imagine you re-tie
a broken string and on it thread a cross,
the symbol severed from me when I died.
The end of time – an unknown, unfelt loss –
unless the Resurrection of the Dead…
or I once dreamed of this, your future breath
in prayer for me, lost long, forever found;
or sensed you from the backstage of my death,
as kings glimpse shadows on the battleground.
From Richard Buckley and myself, thank you everyone who worked on the project, you number in your hundreds, if not thousands by now, a true team effort that will leave lasting partnerships.
Mathew Morris (site director, The Greyfriars Project)