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05/24/2013

Did King Richard III get a quick burial?

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The remains of England's King Richard III, which were missing for 500 years. (AP Photo/University of Leicester)

 

Medieval chroniclers wrote that King Richard III had been buried "without any pompe or solemne funeral."

Now, archaeologists say that's true. 

The University of Leicester team that co-discovered the 15th century British monarch's skeleton last September --- and confirmed this February that the remains were in fact Richard III -- have announced new details about the burial.

The grave was too short for the body, the archeologists say, and was dug in an "untidy lozenge" shape.  That's inconsistent with other burials of the era in the same town, which were neatly dug with square sides and are of proper length for the bodies they contain.

Furthermore, there is no evidence of a coffin or shroud, and the king's head was propped against one side of the grave, suggesting the gravediggers didn't try to lay the body out properly after it was lowered into the ground.

"This may show that the gravediggers were in a hurry to put the body in the ground – or had little respect for the deceased," the University announced in a press release.

King Richard III died in battle in 1485 and was buried at what was then Grey Friars church -- now a parking lot. When archeologists began to dig beneath the lot in August 2012, they found bones of a man who seemed to have fatal battle wounds and a curved spine -- King Richard III was described as having the symptoms of scoliosis.

In February, with the help of DNA from Canadian relatives, the skeleton was positively identified as Richard

Kate Allen is the Star's science and technology reporter. Find her on Twitter at @katecallen.

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