Until the discovery of the Grey Friars skeleton in September 2012 no one was certain that the spinal condition attributed to Richard III was not simply later Tudor propaganda. The skeleton has been extensively examined by our osteoarchaeologist Dr Jo Appleby, orthopaedic consultant, scoliosis expert and osteoarchaeologist Dr Piers Morgan (Peterborough City Hospital and Division of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge) and Bruno Morgan (Imaging Department, Leicester Royal Infirmary).
The diagnosis of adolescent onset idiopathic scoliosis has been made on the basis of the pathology of the vertebrae in addition to the position of the body in the grave. The curvature is not consistent with an awkward body position in the grave.
Although there is evidence of arthritis on some of the vertebrae, it’s impossible to tell if this was painful, if so to what degree, and whether any pain he suffered was constant. Research on his spinal condition continues, and we are trying to find out more about how it might have affected him.
It is clear from examination of the bones and the grave site that his feet were not chopped off near the time of his death and that they vanished long after he had been buried. Since there was considerable later disturbance in the vicinity of the site of the grave, it is most probable that later gardening or building activities were responsible for the disappearance of his feet.
We are still carrying our research on Richard’s teeth including investigation of his dental calculus and further stable isotope analysis. We expect that this work will tell us about his diet, the state of his health and the different places that he lived.