Archaeological Survey Specialists SUMO Stratascan Assist in the Search for Richard III's Remains.
SUMO Stratascan, the archaeological survey specialists, recently carried out a geophysical survey to help locate what was believed to be the remains of Richard III found under a council car park in Leicester. History records that after being killed by the army of Henry Tudor during the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, Richard III's body was buried in a nearby Franciscan friary. However, the friary was subsequently destroyed during Henry VIII's reign and the exact location of the burial site has remained a mystery to this day.
A search team made up of archaeologists from Leicester University, along with members of the Richard III Historical Society, first started researching the project several years ago, but chose to commence the archaeological dig at the car park on the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth. Richard Buckley, of the University of Leicester archaeology service, said at the outset: "The big question for us is determining the whereabouts of the church on the site and also where in the church the body was buried. It is quite a long shot but it's a very exciting project. We don't know precisely where the body would have been buried but we suspect it would be in the choir or near the altar."
In order to help find the best places to dig, SUMO Stratascan were called in to carry out a geophysical survey of the car park, with a view to identifying any anomalies of archaeological significance that may relate to the lost friary. The survey was carried out using multi-channel ground penetrating radar with a 400MHz antenna. This technology offers an excellent combination of depth, of penetration and resolution, identifying anomalies to depths of around 3.8 meters.
The experts at SUMO Stratascan compiled the data to create a 3D file, which can be manipulated to be viewed from any angle and at any depth within a range. This data was then linked to a ground level survey grid, tied in with suitable topographic features around the perimeter of the site. The technique enabled investigators to pinpoint the location of any potential anomalies and identify areas that should be investigated further.
The ensuing dig successfully uncovered the remains of the cloisters and chapter house, as well as the church itself. Work then focused on the choir area, where it was recorded that Richard had been interred. The skeleton subsequently found was of an adult male, who suffered from severe scoliosis, a form of spinal curvature which would have made his right shoulder appear higher than the left, giving the appearance of a 'hunchback'. It had also suffered serious damage to the head where part of the the skull had been sliced off and an arrow head was found in the upper back, injuries potentially linked with death in battle.
Both of these details tie in with our historical knowledge of Richard III, and the search team now awaits the outcome of a DNA test (results are expected in December). The SUMO group includes a network of over 30 fully equipped survey teams located throughout the UK. They provide a wide range of surveying services you can rely on. Contact Sumo Services today for more information.
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