‘Grant me the carving of my name’

What a week! Leicester rose to the occasion and reburied King Richard III with style; a perfect blend of solemnity and pageantry, mixing the old and the new with dignity and honour.

I’m not one for writing a sentimental eulogy for the project that has dominated the last two and a half years of my life, but forgive me if this turns out as such. It has been a brilliant event and if asked to do it again, with the benefit of hindsight, I would jump at the chance.

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Richard III’s coffin, made by Michael Ibsen, in the cortege through Leicester in Sunday 22 March, 2015. Image: Leicester Cathedral
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Richard III’s coffin lies in repose in Leicester Cathedral, covered by the pall embroidered by Jacquie Binns. Image: Leicester Cathedral
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Richard III’s finished tomb. Image: Leicester Cathedral

Today, it still seems improbable that we succeeded in finding Richard III. Projects such as this are once in a lifetime and it has been an honour to be involved. Re-writing history is exciting and it is humbling to see how much interest people around the world have taken in our search. I’m glad we didn’t disappoint.

I’m sure this post won’t be a complete sign off of the Greyfriars Project. Even though the king’s bones are now secure beneath a beautiful new tomb in Leicester Cathedral, there is more research to be done and we still have to publish the full excavation report, something we will revisit later in the year.

If you happen to be in London between 25 March and 25 June, pop into the Science Museum to see a new exhibit revealing the latest scientific discoveries about the life, death and DNA of King Richard III, including the University’s 3D printed skeleton and a prototype coffin.

Later this year (29 June to 5 July) we will be returning to London to exhibit the project at the Royal Society’s prestigious summer exhibition.

For now, I’m going to leave you with a few links to stories and videos which may have been missed in the deluge of world wide media coverage. After Easter we will resume normal service, showcasing a wealth of new and exciting sites that ULAS staff have been working on.

Finally, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, commissioned by Leicester Cathedral and read by Benedict Cumberbatch during the Service of Reinterment on Thursday 26 March, 2015, a lovely summation which captured the essence of the week beautifully.

RICHARD

My bones, scripted in light, upon cold soil,

a human braille. My skull, scarred by a crown,

emptied of history. Describe my soul

as incense, votive, vanishing; your own

the same. Grant me the carving of my name.

These relics, bless. Imagine you re-tie

a broken string and on it thread a cross,

the symbol severed from me when I died.

The end of time – an unknown, unfelt loss –

unless the Resurrection of the Dead…

or I once dreamed of this, your future breath

in prayer for me, lost long, forever found;

or sensed you from the backstage of my death,

as kings glimpse shadows on the battleground.

From Richard Buckley and myself, thank you everyone who worked on the project, you number in your hundreds, if not thousands by now, a true team effort that will leave lasting partnerships.

Mathew Morris (site director, The Greyfriars Project)

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Richard Buckley and Mathew Morris enjoy a well-earned, and appropriately named, beer. Image: Jim Butler
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