King Richard’s Grave

The grave of King Richard III was found at the northern end of Trench 1. Once the church had been found, it was clear that the grave was located at the western end of the choir, most likely against the southern choir stall.

The grave appears to have been hastily dug and was too short for the body, which was awkwardly propped up at one end. No evidence for a coffin, shroud or clothing was found. This fits with historical accounts which say that Richard III was buried without pomp or solemn funeral.

The arrangement of the body suggests it was lowered feet first, head last. This explains why the legs are straight, but the upper torso and head are partially propped against one side of the grave. The way the hands are arranged, crossed at the wrists and placed askew above the right side of the pelvis is unusual. It is possible that they could have been tied together, either to keep the limbs tidy or perhaps because they were never untied after Richard III was taken down from the horse which transported his corpse back to Leicester.

No personal ornaments were found in the grave. An iron object found under two vertebrae and initially thought to be an arrowhead turned out, on closer examination and x-ray, to be a Roman nail. A few fragments of Roman pottery were also found in the grave fill, and it is likely that the grave diggers disturbed earlier archaeological levels, which became mixed up in the soil when the grave was filled in.

Learn more about the grave, discover how it was mapped in 3D to create a permanent record.

Illustration of Greyfriars by Jill Atherton
Artist’s reconstruction of the Grey Friars church looking west, showing the arrangement of the choir and presbytery and the alabaster slab laid over the burial place of Richard III. Artwork by Jill Atherton.
The king’s remains in-situ in his grave shortly after their discovery in 2012.
The king’s remains in-situ in his grave shortly after their discovery in 2012.

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