Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Grand Prix Predictions 2013

The new Formula One season is nearly upon us, and those nice folks at MoneySupermarket's blog asked my opinion (along with a few other proper F1 bloggers!) about how the 2013 season is going to pan out. Then they created this nifty infographic with the results. A lot of love for Alonso finally becoming World Champion this year it would seem!


Grand Prix Preview 2013 – An infographic by the team at MoneySupermarket Car Insurance

And my opinions within this?


Who will be 2013 World Champion?
Raikkonen
After a strong and consistent season last year, I think that this consistency will result in a Championship win this year after a close season.

2013 Constructors Champions?
Red Bull Racing

Most improved driver
Grosjean - he's going to be a more mature driver than last year I think

Most improved team
Lotus

Surprising /Big news story - successful development of passive DRS, causing big upsets in the championship part way through the season

Team Winners
Vettel
Alonso
Perez
Raikonnen
Hamilton
Hulkenburg
Di Resta
Maldonado
Vergne 
Pic
Chilton

What do you think? Are you looking forward to this year's racing?

Sunday, 24 February 2013

A Cheeky Red

And Hey Presto! No sooner do I proclaim to you all that I am now a Wine Blogger, than my new guest review is up on the Just Great Wine blog. Ta da!

This time I was reviewing an intriguing little Vin de France, 'Prestige' by Daniel Bessiere. And what did I think? Well, that'd be telling wouldn't it! You'll just have to go and check out my Guest Post! But then you should come back here and tell me what do you think.

Have I the makings of a wine blogger, or should I stick to drinking wine while I blog about kittens and cake? The eternal question.

REVIEW: Aldi Lacura Nail Polish

During a quick stop at my local Aldi recently I decided to treat myself to a new nail polish, as the colour caught my eye - it would match the top I was planning to wear to a job interview that week (no- got down to the last two, then rejected. Boo.)

Now admittedly, £1.99 is more than I would normally spend on anything in Aldi, except possibly wine, so this felt like a big splashy purchase for me in the circumstances. However, in the grand scheme of things I can accept that it is a reasonably priced treat.

I have to say, I was impressed by the quality of the polish too. It did not disappoint. The colour was as I expected from the bottle, and the coverage was pretty good. It had a good consistency and nice opacity, but for my tastes I preferred to apply two coats to get a good consistent finish.

Having applied it, it lasted well. After 3 days, I only had two small chips and was able to keep the nail polish on without it looking annoyingly rubbish for about 5 days in total. I thought that was pretty hard wearing for such a cheap product, especially as I was at the gym and out and about doing all my normal stuff during that time.

For the price then, I don't think you could ask for much more. There was a limited selection of colour options in my Aldi, about 5 or 7 different options I think. However, if you like the look of one of the colours I say go for it. For value and relative quality I can't really give anything but 10 Extreme Points. Cheap and cheerful.



#silentsunday




Silent Sunday

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Wine Blogging

I think I forgot to mention - I'm a wine blogger now! You will have seen my posts in summer 2012 looking at great wines and great wineries in California and since then I was asked to write a guest review for Just Great Wine

What a great opportunity. I love wine and I am really enjoying learning more about it. This must be obvious because yesterday the Boy came home with a copy of the World Encyclopedia of Wine for me (he got three books for £1 in a charity shop!), so I'm off to do a bit more swotting up now.


I hope you enjoy my wine based posts! I am definitely just a beginner, but I know what I like and I hope that by sharing my wine experiences with you all, everyone will get the chance to try something new and delicious!

Cheers!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Recipe: Almond Breeze Cherry Bakewell Smoothie

I have hit upon an awesome breakfast smoothie recipe that tastes devilishly delicious, but is actually angelic in its low calorie count and great vitamin content. It's a great boost in the morning, keeps you full for a decent amount of time and feels like you're drinking liquid cake!!

Seriously, I s**t you not! It is Cherry Bakewell, in smoothie form. Blue Diamond sent me two litres of their Almond Breeze Almond Milk in the unsweetened variety to experiment with and so far, this is my favourite smoothie recipe. The almond milk itself is just as you'd expect - non-sweetened, but still a creamy flavour, sort of like a semi-skimmed milk, without that almost thick texture that full fat milk has and it has a very pleasant, but also very faint almond finish to the flavour. It doesn't coat your mouth or leave any particular after taste so I find it very light and refreshing compared to cow's milk. Of course it is dairy free, so it's only 29 calories per 200ml serving, which is just incredible. 

This meant it was really easy for me to create a low calorie, low saturated fat smoothie that packs an awesome vitamin punch and some great flavour to start your day. It also happens to be gluten free, so if you are unfortunate enough not to be able to enjoy actual Cherry Bakewells, I hope this will present a good second best!

Almond Breeze 
Very Cherry Bakewell Smoothie
Serves 2

Ingredients
225ml Unsweetened Almond Breeze Almond Milk
1 medium banana
100g drained pitted sour cherries
Dash of almond extract

Method 1
1. Put ingredients in a jug
2. Blend with a stick blender
3. Pour in 2 glasses and enjoy!

Method 2
1. Put ingredients in blender
2. Blend
3. Pour in 2 glasses and enjoy!

It really doesn't get any easier! It literally took me 30 seconds to put this together and it is delicious! It's creamy and slightly, but not overly thick thanks to the creaminess of the almond milk and also the texture from the banana. It's not overly sweet, with a lovely kick from the sour cherries but again, this is mellowed by the banana which adds a natural sweetness. The almond flavour in combination with everything else, texture and flavour, really gives that hint of frangipane. Of course, this recipe would be awesome in the evening too. For a more adult treat, just put in a shot of amaretto in place of the almond extract! It bumps up the calories a little, but still surprisingly virtuous for such a decadent tasting treat!

The Boy gave it a double thumbs off and proceeded to drink the rest of the glass, even though I was going to have that one, it was just for him to taste! Lucky I made a 2 serving portion, the cheeky wotname!

You could add in a few ice cubes and blitz them up with the smoothie for a lovely milkshake feel. Or use the mixture in an ice cream maker - I think that would work well for a tasty dairy free ice cream treat (but maybe not for breakfast!)


So, I hear you cry, I'm boasting about these great stats, but what is the nutritional value, really?

Per serving (recipe serves two)

99 calories
2g fat, of which 0.2g is saturated fat
0mg cholesterol
415mg potassium, about 10% of your RDA
21g carbohydrate
2.7g fibre
11.5g sugar (all naturally present in the fruit - no need to add any!)
19% of your daily vitamin A
18% of your daily vitamin B6
17% of your daily vitamin C
12.5% of your daily vitamin D
26% of your daily vitamin E
24% of your daily calcium

Not a bad start to the day at all, I'm sure you'll agree. I would think at 99 calories, you could have this smoothie as part of a larger, balanced breakfast, or, if you are on a calorie controlled diet have both servings in one as your breakfast to give you double the above nutrition - that's a good proportion of vitamins in you before you even walk out of the door!

This is my entry into the Foodies 100 and Almond Breeze competition to create a simple, delicious breakfast smoothie. Let those judges know what you think of my entry by commenting below!

Why Richard III should be buried in Leicester

Before I even get in to this I have three important points to make that you all need to promise to read and accept before you begin on the proper meat of this post.

  1. This post represents my personal opinion on the subject of the reburial of Richard III. I am not representing anyone, any organisation or any institution in this post, I am simply expressing my own personal opinion.
  2. My opinion is often based on the understanding I have gained from having worked with Leicester's archaeology for 8 years and actually having worked with the team that excavated at Grey Friars. However, make no mistake, this is still only my own personal opinion.
  3. I've only caved in to writing this post because I have been keeping up a little with the coverage and online discussion about the reburial of King Richard III's remains and I can't believe how disappointed I am that this fantastic archaeological discovery seems to have brought the worst out in some people. I've seen people randomly slagging off Leicester, the archaeologists in the team, basically anything they can think of in the name of 'respecting Richard's wishes'. I find it quite sad, a little upsetting, but most of all it inspires me to want to put forward my own arguments to show that this matter can be discussed without resorting to name calling and pigtail pulling.


OK, everyone got that? My opinion. Also, it's worth noting that my opinion is completely immaterial as all the relevant authorities have been consulted and all are in agreement that Leicester Cathedral is the appropriate and respectful place for the re-internment of the remains. So this is essentially a purely theoretical piece of writing, or alternatively, just one that helps to explain why this decision has been taken, in my opinion.

So, in no particular order, let's address some of the main points that are doing the rounds:

King Richard III expressed a direct wish to be buried in York Minster and therefore we should respect his wishes.

Quite simply, no. Richard planned to build a chapel extension on to York Minster to act as house to 100 chantry priests. Chantry priests prayed for the souls of the deceased, a sort of after-death insurance policy to keep God sweet. There is no evidence that he intended to be buried there himself, indeed he left no surviving will which categorically defines his wishes.

The common practice of archaeology, which most people have no heard about, is to rebury the remains of exhumed skeletons in consecrated ground near to where they were originally discovered. This is in the main because it is considered to be most respectful to acquiesce to the status quo of the history that has come before us and not to try to second guess the wishes of the deceased. For example, unnamed burials excavated in Leicester are usually reburied at Gilroes, because it is local and it is a multi-faith cemetery so we are making no assumptions about the wishes of the deceased. After all, there is no way of telling that the relatives, or whoever buried the person originally were respecting their wishes.

So back to Richard. If we are to break this cardinal rule of not assuming the wishes of a person who has been dead for over 500 years, then I would suggest that we infer his thoughts from his actions. One of the last things Richard III did was to take the field at Bosworth against Henry Tudor. Admittedly, the historical sources suggest he was eager for the conflict, to take out the upstart and have his rebellion ended once and for all. But I think it is safe to say, as someone who had seen his father, elder brother and countless others killed over the course of the Wars of the Roses, he also knew there was a chance that he would be killed. I think it is safe to say that Richard knew that if he was killed, Henry Tudor would become king and would be responsible for disposing of Richard's remains as he saw fit.

Which is precisely what happened. Richard III was buried in Leicester as a direct consequence of choosing to engage in the Battle of Bosworth. Had being buried in York Minster been his all consuming raison d'etre, perhaps he would have high tailed it away from danger, or perhaps accepted the offer of a horse to escape the battlefield.

Wait, wouldn't Richard have been a Catholic? And Leicester Cathedral is CofE, right?

Indeed, Richard was a Catholic - it was Henry Tudor's son, Henry VIII that invented the Church of England,  over 60 years after Richard's death. However, my understanding of the situation is that Richard was considered the head of the Church in England and that institution continues today as the Church of England, so it is appropriate that he be buried in their building. After all, Richard was originally buried practically in the shadow of St Martins (now the Cathedral), so there is a clear continuity. 

Happily, the Bishop of Nottingham, the Catholic counterpart to the CofE Bishop of Leicester is fully engaged with the reburial process so I understand the reburial will take place with the blessing of, and rites appropriate to, both religions.

Richard should be buried with his beloved wife, Anne Neville, in Westminster Abbey.

Couple of reasons I don't agree with this. Firstly, Westminster Abbey have expressed no desire for the remains to be entrusted to their care. Secondly, at the time of his death, the historical sources are quite clear that Richard was trying to line up a new wife in order to secure an heir for himself. Had he lived, he would have taken a new wife and they would have perhaps been buried together. Which nicely illustrates the danger of playing theoretical parlour games with history. What if, what is? It doesn't matter, it didn't happen.

Yes, Anne Neville was carefully buried by her husband in Westminster Abbey, but in an unmarked grave next to the High Altar. Squeezing Richard in to share this unmarked space would surely not be appropriate to his status, appropriate to the historic nature of the building.

Furthermore, Westminster Abbey is full. George II was buried there in 1760 and ever since, royalty has mainly been buried at Windsor. Who is going to pay for a new wing to be built on this historic building, to inter a long-dead monarch, in a move that is, essentially, an attempt to rewrite history? Indeed, is there any part of the Abbey that could be knocked through to allow for an additional wing? I very much doubt it, this is one of Britain's most iconic buildings.

But Richard III had a special connection with York, so he should go there.

Indeed, that Richard had a place in his heart for York is undeniable. But no more so than other places in the country. If you look at the King's progress round the country during his short reign it is clear that he visited and stayed at London and Nottingham as much, if not more than he visited York. By this argument, Nottingham would have as much as a claim as anyone to the remains, but they make no claim because they recognize that best professional practice is being executed.

Perhaps if the City of York had decided to send more than one messenger in response to Richard's summons to arms, the outcome of Bosworth would have been different?

York Minster certainly acknowledges the special connection to Richard III, but they have also issued an official statement to agree that Leicester Cathedral is the appropriate spot for the reburial. Finally, I think that this discovery is something good and interesting for everyone in England - after all Richard was King of England. I would prefer that he is reburied in Leicester Cathedral, where a monument has stood to his memory for some decades now, and we can all visit to pay our respects, rather than paying a £9 per adult admittance charge as we would be doing in York. I have been to York many times, but I have never been inside the Minster because the entrance charges are prohibitive.

Leicester has a special connection with Richard III.

I haven't really seen many people raising it, but it is an undeniable truth that Richard III's final days are a Leicester narrative as well as national one. Leicester has enjoyed over half a millenia of being home to the remains to King Richard III. In that time, Richard has been remembered and respected - in 1612, for example, the father of Sir Christopher Wren recorded visiting the Herrick family and being shown the memorial stone pillar put up to memorialise the spot of the burial of Richard, 'sometime King of England'. I find it amazing that knowledge of the location of the burial had survived the Reformation at all.

Since then, Leicester folklore surrounding Richard III has flourished. The great tale that an old Leicester woman predicted as Richard left over Bow Bridge that his head would strike the same stone on his return that his spur hit on the way out is considered to be archetypal local witch 'Black Annis'. Thyere are a huge amount of myths surrounding the bed that Richard had brought from Nottingham Castle to sleep in at his night at the Blue Boar Inn (then, supposedly the White Boar, prior to a hasty name change after the Battle). A stash of gold coins supposedly fell out of the bed, centuries after Richard's departure. Sections of the bed are still thought to exist, as common as Buddha's teeth, around the City and County, with one 17th century example being on display in the current exhibition and another postulated example on display at Donington Le Heath.

We also have our barmy lore that has now been totally debunked once and for all, the pervasive, but unfounded myth that his body was exhumed and thrown into the River Soar at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, or the story of the stone trough outside a local inn that was Richard's coffin. That last one did the round since the 17th century and the bits of the coffin got gradually smaller and less impressive over time!

So the closing chapter of Richard's life is part of Leicester heritage and has always been embraced by the people of Leicester. Take away the remains of the King and what becomes of King Richard Road, the Richard III pub, his statue and the Richard III Primary School, supposedly the only school in the country to bear such a name? He has been built into Leicester's culture for over 500 years and this history can not be lightly tossed aside because the remains have been located. One of our local Blue Badge Guildes has been doing Richard III themed guided walks of the City for decades - celebrating Richard III in Leicester is not a new thing.

I think I've covered most of the main points. The rest of the arguments I've seen seem to just be of the nature that Richard III shouldn't be buried in Leicester because Leicester isn't very nice, because the Mayor just wants to exploit the opportunity to make money, and shockingly I have seen some people citing Leicester's cultural diversity as a reason for why an English King shouldn't be buried here.

I can't even express how sad the racist comments make me and I shan't even bother to address them, because you all know how ridiculous that is. However, I can stand up against the other points. It's worth noting that the media that have come to Leicester in the last week or so have been stringing this story out, so each day, they come with set questions along a specific theme. 

One day, for example, all anyone asked me about was the supposed York vs Leicester battle, which I happily told them was a media fiction. So, if the Mayor has come across at one time as only talking about the potential economic benefits to the city of this opportunity, then I can tell you now what you have seen is footage from the day that all the journalists wanted to know about was the potential economic benefits to the City. On that day, I was expecting to be interviewed about the content of the Richard III exhibition at Leicester Guildhall, but instead I had to help one journalist get in touch with a representative of Leicester Shire Promotions, because they wanted to know how many tourists the city was expecting, not what the exhibition was about.

And as for Leicester not being a 'fitting' city, (to the people saying Richard should be buried in York because of its medieval heritage, of course Leicester has a strong medieval tradition, we were the place where the last medieval king was buried!) and "why would anyone want to visit Leicester anyway", well those nay sayers couldn't be more wrong. Leicester is not perfect, but neither is it a bad place to live or visit. Here are just a few edited highlights of what Leicester has going for it:

  • One of the tallest Roman civil structures in the country, the Jewry Wall, is in Leicester city centre. A great Roman monument attached to a lovely museum of Leicester's archaeology
  • Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival - happening as we speak, this is one of the country's longest running Comedy Festivals and is considered one of the best in the world by some, including the Guardian.
  • Our Diwali celebration is one of the biggest outside of the Indian subcontinent. Every year, tens of thousands of people get together on Belgrave Road to celebrate the Festival of Light.
  • Fantastic museum collections - New Walk Museum, for example, houses the best collection of Egyptian Antiquities in the region and a world class collection of German Expressionist art as well as hosting exhibits from national institutions such as the British Museum, the Tate and the National Portrait Gallery.
  • Great shopping - Leicester's Lanes and small arcades are crammed with some great tiny, independent stores and cafes. I particularly love St Martin's Square, with Rockaboom for records and gig tickets and the Original Cookware Company for awesome kitchenalia. There are now loads of vintage shops in the tiny arcades too, which I highly recommend.
  • Great food - try East Midland's own tiny chain of French restaurants, Le Bistrot Pierre for a top feed, or of course sample one of our hundreds of authentic, reasonably priced Indian restaurants (although I'd steer away from over priced Mem Saab if I were you!)
  • Beautiful parks - Abbey Park for example, is gorgeous and home to the remains of Leicester Abbey, the burial place of another medieval celebrity, Cardinal Wolsey.
  • And there's tonne's more. One of the finest timber framed buildings in the country (the Guildhall), the home of one of the key figures of the Arts and Crafts movement, Ernest Gimson and what I believe is the last Secular Hall in the country (or the oldest?). A great rugby team, a great cricket team and a mediocre football team. Two cracking universities. Engelbert Humperdink. 


What more could you want?

That's my opinion, for what it's worth.




Monday, 4 February 2013

King Richard III: The Uncomfortable Truth

Here I am during this morning's press conference
Today the University of Leicester announced to the world that beyond all reasonable doubt, the remains of King Richard III have been excavated in Leicester. 

I blogged about the discovery in September 2012, when the skeleton had just been discovered and analysis was just beginning. Now the most up to date knowledge has been released to the public and the identity of the remains has been confirmed. I feel like I could write a whole dissertation about this discovery, but I'll try to keep it relatively concise!!


How did we know Richard III was buried in Leicester?


After his death at the Battle of Bosworth, 22nd August 1485, Richard's body was slung over a horse and returned to Leicester. At Henry VII's insistence, it was displayed for three days in the Newarke. After this, the body was given a sombre burial without pomp by the Grey Friars. The Chronicler, John Rous is one of the sources for this, saying the body 'at last was buried in the choir of the Friars Minor at Leicester’.





Trench 1 is cut. This is exactly where the skeleton was discovered.
So the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) knew roughly what they needed to find in order to find King Richard's remains. Using old maps of Leicester, including Speed's map of 1612 they were able to pinpoint the likely position of the Friary and they used a system of three long trenches to identify the buildings and plot its plan. It was only after some fortnight's digging that they realised that the skeleton, uncovered within mere hours of the excavation beginning, was actually in the choir of the church - exactly where they wanted to look.

How do we know this is the skeleton of King Richard III?


There are many reasons that we can state, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the skeleton found under the Greyfriars car park in Leicester is that of Richard III. Basically, all of the evidence on the skeleton matches up with the contemporary historical sources. This is then backed up by the skeleton's DNA being matched with living relatives of Richard III through the matrilineal line of Anne of York, Richard's sister. Here are some of the reasons:


Scoliosis


The skeleton has a severe S shaped curved in the spine, caused by a condition called scoliosis. This is idiopathic adolescent onset scoliosis, meaning that the condition came on after the age of 10, he was not born with it, and we do not know what caused the condition. 



The clear S shaped curve in the spine

The idea of Richard III as having some kind of spinal deformity is of course enshrined in his portrayal as the murderous hunchback by Shakespeare, over a century after the monarch's death, but we find that the contemporary sources provide a much more sympathetic and accurate representation of the King's condition. John Rous, who was a Chantry Priest in Warwick and may well have seen Richard during visits to Warwick described him as ‘small of stature, with a short face and unequal shoulders, the right higher and the left lower.’ This is exactly what Osteologists interpret the condition would do to the shoulders and, interestingly, the overall skeleton is very slight and gracile - almost feminine in its proportions, which would be consistent with Richard appeared 'small of stature'.

Weapons Trauma


For me, the most interesting evidence is the battle trauma endured by the skeleton. I personally find this to be the most compelling evidence that this skeleton belongs to Richard III. There have been 10 wounds in total identified on the skeleton, 8 on the skull and 2 elsewhere on the body. They are consistent with the individual having died in battle and also suffering the indignity of post-mortem mutiltation - a way of insulting the deposed monarch?



The wound is the large hole, on the right
Frenchman Jean Molinet wrote that ‘One of the Welshmen then came after him, and struck him dead with a halberd’. Dating to around 1490, this is one of the few near contemporary accounts that mentions the weapon used to kill Richard. The Ballad of Lady Bessy, also a near contemporary source, also clearly states that Richard suffered head injuries during the battle; ‘they struck his bascinet to his head until his brains came out with blood.’

The most serious trauma suffered by the skeleton clearly bears out these contemporary sources. This is where a large bladed weapon, like a halberd has cleaved off a section of the skull. Sickeningly, a small piece of skull was found associated with this injury, presumably where the blade has not totally removed the soft tissue and this was left attached, during the return of Richard's corpse to Leicester and all three days exposure on the Newarke. Eep.



There are other wounds to the skull, including a 'shaving' wound where a very sharp weapon has shaved off a small slice of bone, which would have caused a great loss of blood if he was still alive at the time. The wound on the maxilla (a puncture wound to the cheek) and the mandible (a cut mark) are possibly 'insult-injuries' inflicted as deliberate mutilation after death, just like the cut mark on the right rib is thought to represent. Interestingly, all of the injuries to the skull are unlikely to have been inflicted in the same way if Richard was wearing a helmet. This means that his helmet was lost or destroyed at some point during the battle.

The two non-skull injuries are also likely to be deliberate acts of despoilment of the body. There is a cut mark on the right rib, where a bladed weapon has been used against the back of the King, perhaps consistent with what we know of the body being laid naked over a horse when being brought back into Leicester. Similarly is the cut mark on the right pelvis. This mark runs internally from back to front, meaning that the bladed weapon was thrust into the right buttock, presumably aiming for the anus. There was some force behind the blow as it left its mark on the skeleton, terminating in a slight penetration. 

Clear cut mark on the pelvis

Again, you can imagine that this was an insult to the dead body of the deposed king, naked and defenceless when slung over that horse. A sword up the arse suggests that Richard III was not popular with the forces of the newly crowned Henry VII. And this is why I call the blog post the  Uncomfortable Truth.


Scientific Analysis


The last results to come in were the DNA. Mitochondrial DNA from two lines of female relatives of Richard III's family were tested against the skeleton and both came back with a positive match.There are also four living relatives through the male line that have been identified, although it is still early days with this analysis so no conclusions have been drawn yet. All of this analysis is incredibly new and will be checked and peer-reviewed over the coming months.



Excavating under controlled conditions to avoid contamination

Other scientific analysis has helped to confirm the identity of the remains. The Carbon 14 analysis came back with a plausible date of between 1450 and 1538 (the cut off date being the Dissolution, after which time the body could not possibly have been buried under the floor of Greyfriars, because Greyfriars didn't exist anymore!). This meant that the remains dated to the correct period. This analysis also flagged up that Richard's diet was rich in marine protein - he ate a lot of seafish and oysters. This is the sort of detail about Richard's life that will be revealed in the future through further analysis. For example, the calculus deposits on his teeth are being analysed under the microscope as calculus can trap fragments of food, or anything in the environment. This can tell us more about diet and lifestyle. Once 11th century Leicester lady who has been analysed, for example, had tiny fibres in her calculus suggested she spun thread or weaved as a profession.


There is more to say and we will learn more as future analysis takes place - happily this is a story that is only just beginning!


Will Richard get a state funeral?


No. In keeping with good practice in the treatment of human remains, Richard will be reburied in Leicester Cathedral - the nearest consecrated ground to where he was originally buried. He would have received the appropriate rites when he was buried by the Grey Friars, so he has already had a funeral. Instead, he will receive a respectful re-interrment, with all the due solemnity and honour to his memory. Personally, I think this is entirely appropriate.


Is this rewriting history?


Not really! I think what is so great about this excavation is that it confirms what we suspected and backs up what the primary evidence told us. The sources said that Richard III was buried in the choir of the church of the Grey Friars, and hey presto, that's where his remains were uncovered.  We hear from someone likely to actually have seen the king that his right shoulder was higher than his left and the skeleton's scoliosis is likely to have had just this effect. The weapons trauma is consistent with the accounts we have, and so on.




I think this is a great discovery, because the physical remains are giving us that extra bit of detail that is missing from the written accounts. We hear that Richard's body was badly treated and despoiled, but now we have the interpretation of the insult injuries that give us vivid detail as to exactly what those injuries were. This is being compared with the battle wounds and mutilation found on the burials from the Battle of Towton to learn even more.

This excavation gives us a new set of data against which to compare the historical sources. It helps us to corroborate their evidence, to test the reliability of historic authors whose bias we may not always fully understand. I think it's incredibly exciting and I must admit that I was deeply saddened to see my former lecturer, Mary Beard's slightly derisive tweets about the lack of historical value in this discovery today. Surely she, above anyone, understands the research potential that the remains unlock and can forgive the University of Leicester for capitilising on the absolutely stirling work that their multi disciplinary team has undertaken? Ah well, I will continue to fan worship her from afar, she's done too much awesome work on the Classical world. Maybe this is too medieval for her tastes.... For the purposes of Dicky Three, I will put all my Newnham love (my former college) on to the wonderful Dr Jo Appleby, Bioarchaeologist extraordinaire who was at Newnham during my first year and we will leave lovely Beard out of it.


And on that note, I would also like to state my opinion that I think the University have handled this incredibly well. They have not sold out, far from it. They have solely funded the post-excavation work which has not been cheap. In the main, the expertise for the analysis of the skeleton has come from their own academics. Of course they wanted their logo shouted out in the background of today's press conference. Richard Buckley is one of ULAS's co-directors and he chose where to put the trenches, essentially finding Richard III straight off the bat. They are the University that discovered DNA fingerprinting, allowing the remains to be compared to the DNA of living relatives, over 500 years later. For these reasons and more they deserve to be celebrated and it ought to be recognised that they have spent significantly more than they have so far gained. I hope they get a tonne of successful grant applications off the back of this.



Very sneaky peek at the Guildhall exhibition

Oh and of course now you've seen and heard all this, you'll want to visit a free exhibition that explains all the results, shows you finds from the Grey Friars site and gives you all the inside info on medieval Leicester. It just so happens that such an exhibition will be opening at Leicester Guildhall on 8th February 2013. But as that exhibition's curator, I think it will be up to other bloggers to review it. Any Leicester bloggers want to do me a guest post?
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