Saturday, 30 November 2013

Back in the land of Richard III

Remember this scene?

Wednesday 12th September 2012...the scene in the Guildhall in Leicester as the archaeology team from the University of Leicester announced the discovery of a skeleton at the Greyfriars dig.

I can still oh so vividly recall the delicious tingle as I heard the evidence so far about their find.

You can see the back of my head in shot on the left hand side looks as if the TV camera is resting on my shoulder....

Well, since then , millions of words have been written about the discovery of Richard III in newspapers and journals across the world, but I'm pleased to say that the two leading archaeologists involved have now written a book about the startling series of events before and after the discovery.

Their book "Richard III, the King under the Car Park" was launched two weeks ago yesterday at the University of Leicester, and books were literally being grabbed off the tables , money being thrown at the university bookshop sales and assistants, and the authors must have been getting cramp from all the copies they were signing.

One of the authors is the unassuming Mathew Morris, I remember meeting him first thing in the morning at the dig  the day the first announcement was made. I was with the radio car doing live broadcasts, he was quietly checking the site...and there was a security guard. Just the three of us...and it really was the calm before the storm...

It was great to see Mathew last Friday, enjoying the drinks and the canap├ęs, yet finding time to talk to everyone.


And of course Richard Buckley was there too...the project director and lead archaeologist for the Greyfriars project, as well as being the co director of the University of Leicester Archaeological Services team. I can't remember how many times I've interviewed Richard, yet he always finds something fresh and interesting to say and he still hasn't lost a  genuine sense of wonder about the whole discovery.


And here's the book!


What I like about this is the way both Mathew and Richard have managed to straddle the difficulty of producing a book which satisfies their peers and yet makes this archaeological find so accessible to everyone. At a very affordable price and published by the University of Leicester, it's the first to tell the story from those who actually found the King, sharing  what happened at the dig, the mood there, and putting the find into context with mediaeval Leicester.

Luckily I managed to fight off others and buy some copies from a quickly dwindling pile on the night and get them signed.

Meanwhile in other Richard III news, the University of Leicester has received royal recognition for the excellence of the work on the discovery of the King, with the award of the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. 
And there's more good news....yesterday,  the University of Leicester was also awarded "Research Project of the Year" at this year's Times Higher Education Awards for it's work on the discovery of Richard III.
But, and here's a big but, everything is not hunky dory in Richard III land here in Leicester. The legal battle over where his remains should be buried was adjourned at the High Court on Wednesday.

It's all getting very complicated. A judicial review will now judge whether the procedure which led to his bones being excavated here in the city was done correctly .

Before the dig even began, a licence to carry out the dig, issued by the Ministry of Justice, gave the authority to decide where to rebury the king to the university.

The latest hoo ha  still involves the Plantaganet Alliance...whose members want Richard buried in York Minister, and who are challenging the Justice Secretary's decision not to consult further before granting a licence to the University of Leicester to excavate the King's remains.

 They were given permission to bring  judicial review proceedings against both the Justice Secretary and the University of Leicester a while back by a High Court judge.....but now an adjournment has been declared so that the Leicester City Council can play a role too in the decision regarding what happens to the remains. (It was in their car park that the King was found.)

Well, I did warn you it was getting very complicated and long winded and it looks as if this is one story which just keeps running.

Meanwhile, this song has been running through my head as I've been writing this.....Finders Keepers by the Chairman of the Board from 1973 ....

And as far as I and thousands of other people, in this city and beyond, are concerned, Richard was found here, and should be kept here....





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