Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The last Plantagenet King is found

via wikipedia
King Richard lll was the last Plantagenet King of England and the last to die in battle. After his death on the Battle Fields of Bosworth, Leicestershire in 1485 he was vilified by the then Tudor dynasty, and 100 years later Shakespeare painted a picture of him as a scheming, plotting villain. This is the lasting image that most people have of the last Plantagenet king.
As a result of these bones being discovered the true legacy may yet come to light.
via BBC
Image of head reconstructed from the skull found in the car park in Leicester.
The driving force behind the discovery is Philippa Langley, based in Edinburgh, and secretary of the Scottish branch of the Richard lll Society. Yes, that was new to me too, but apparently there is a worldwide membership running into several thousands. 
It was Philippa who visited the car park in Leicester and had a strong sensation that she was walking on Richard's grave. The car park was covering an area that had been Leicester's Grey Friars which was subsequently razed in Henry Vlll's dissolution of the monasteries, and where it was thought his bones had been taken. There was a white "R" painted on the tarmac, "R" for reserved parking, not "R" for Richard but at that spot she felt she was on a mission.
Cutting through red tape and initial scepticism, Langley obtained permission from Leicester City Council to commission a dig by the University of Leicester Archaeological Services, but funding fell through at the last minute. However, an appeal to the "Ricardians" from around the world raised £13,000 in two weeks. 
The rest is now history. The first trench dug revealed a skeleton with scoliosis of the spine and a blow to the head - the only known account of Richard's death is a poem which states he was "pole-axed to the head".
Yesterday following DNA analysis given by Michael Ibsen, a Canadian furniture maker living in London, a direct descendant through the female line of Richard lll's sister, Anne of York, the bones were confirmed as those of King Richard lll.
courtesy University of Leicester

79 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary:
    This is indeed all so very exciting. We have been reading reports of this this morning and now your beautifully illustrated post adds a further dimension to a most fascinating story.

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance - it is a great historical story for 2013 and I am sure the beginning of a much bigger story to come. I was surprised to discover that the Patron of the King Richard lll Society is in fact the Duke of Gloucester.

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  2. P.S. As your comments, as ours, all go for 'approval', might you consider doing away with the word verification which becomes increasingly difficult to decipher? This does not, of course, apply only to 'Where Five Valleys Meet' but others too.

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    1. I will take on board what you say and give it a try - I have a fear of lots of spam coming through, but can always reverse it if necessary - thank you.

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    2. We are not troubled by over much 'spam' but what we do get is very easily got rid of. But, please, Rosemary, we are not trying to tell you what to do!!

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    3. I have done it already - hope I have done it correctly - perhaps you could give it a go and let me know?

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    4. Hi Rosemary,
      To add to the Hattats, I removed word verification from my blog earlier on, and I have had only one spam in that time. And the spam was so obvious that I didn't even need to read it.
      I find it works fine.

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    5. Dear Kirk - when you sent this comment had the verification gone? I have switched it off - at least I think I have.

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    6. Dear Jane, Lance, Rosemary, et al - Regarding word verification, I have discovered that when I have trouble reading the jumbled letters, if I quickly type in random scrambled letters, I'll get another try without losing my comment, and the second window (or third) will be progressively easier.

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    7. Dear Mark - at the moment I am going to see how it goes - I will switch it back on again if I have problems.

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  3. I am really moved by this discovery. As if the king were speaking to us through the ages.
    And too sad that Shakespeare painted Richard III the way he did, especially in light of the Tudor's reign.

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    1. Thank you for your visit - I too think that the discovery is a very moving story, and one that has much more mileage in it.
      The fact that Shakespeare wrote Richard lll over 100 years later does lend scepticism to his writings and particularly as he was living under Tudor patronage. We all know how stories can change in just a week let alone 100 years. It almost certainly served their own purpose to vilify him.
      I await the next instalment.

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  4. Yesterday I read the news in the newspaper and I was impressed. And now you publish this post. I'm happy to find the story here. thank you. Very, very interesting

    Marina

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    1. Dear Marina - it is a story that will catch the imagination of many, and I am sure that it will lead to more uncovering of what actually happened in 1485.

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  5. My Better Half and I watched the Channel 4 programme last evening, and found it enthralling. I wonder how many people, having seen or read Shakespeare's 'Richard III' in the past would have taken it as true history - I know I did, until years later when I discovered that the Tudor historians had manipulated the facts to suit their royal patrons! Of course, as the saying goes, history is written by the winners, isn't it. What I, and probably several thousands of others, would really like to know is what actually happened to Edward V and his brother - did Richard have them murdered, or did they, as so many other children and older folk did in those days, die of some disease like Typhoid Fever (after all, the Tower is on what was then an exceedingly polluted river) - or did the Tudor faction get them? We'll probably never know the truth, but finding it out would be a real challenge for the historians/archaeologists. If Richard had nothing to do with it, he'd be completely re-established as a good king after centuries of vilification!

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    1. The programme was fascinating, and I believe that David Starkey will be adding his opinions to the pot too.
      I am sure that this is just the start to uncovering a dark part of our history. You are right about the brothers, most children at that time did not survive to adulthood, the only evidence is circumstantial, and as we know that is not sufficient to accuse anyone.
      It served the Tudors to vilify him and for Shakespeare to make him appear like the hunch back of Notre Dam. Scoliosis is hardly visible to most people when the person is dressed.
      Thank for your interesting comments.

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  6. This is such an exciting story, and I have watched several news items about it today. Thankyou for an excellent post, and especially the reconstructed head. It really brings history to light. We love watching the archaelogical shows from England; so much history buried beneath your towns and cities.

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    1. It is a great story Patricia and I think only the beginning.
      Our home is actually on top of what was a Roman Camp. We used to think that we might find some treasurers, but the ground is mainly oolitic limestone and hardly any soil, so no luck there.
      My granddaughter is studying Archaeology at Oxford, so this adds an extra dimension of interest for us.

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  7. Dear Rosemary,

    Our family fought on both sides at the battles of Shrewsbury and of Bosworth (hedging our bets I suppose) and my father was in the midst of joining the RIchard III Society when he died, so I had heard of it before. As an argumentative teenager, because my father was an avowed Yorkist, I was naturally for Lancaster, and even now it is hard to shake off those old loyalties.

    I have been following this news since they first started digging. I like archaeology and so anything like this immediately gets my attention. I thought it might have been nice for Richard's remains to be buried within York Minster.

    Internecine conflict in such a violent age was bound to produce all sorts of travesties and scandals, and acts of heroism too. I believe that really they were all as bad as one another! Have you read the history of Tewksbury Abbey during the the Wars? I always feel a sense of gloom and sadness when I visit that place.

    Bye for now

    Kirk

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    1. Dear Kirk - I have read elsewhere that people are of the opinion that he should be buried in York Minster, home of the white rose.
      I do know and am aware of the bloodshed that occurred in Tewkesbury Abbey following the wars of the Roses. Tewkesbury is very near to us, and somewhere that we often visit.
      You are right about them being as bad as one another, and sadly the same thing continues today as we see daily in the news - man's inhumanity to man.
      PS. is the verification switched off - I do not know from this end whether it is working?

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    2. And now I see that they have their sights set on finding Alfred the Great!
      Kirk

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    3. Do you know where they think he is!!!

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    4. Within the grounds of St Bartholomew's Church in Winchester.
      Here is the link:
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9848984/After-Richard-III-archaeologists-set-their-sights-on-Alfred-the-Great.html

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    5. Thanks Kirk - what excitement.

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  8. I have been fascinated with this unfolding story, partly because I lived in Leicester for several years and know the car park well ! Now the battle for Richard's bones will commence. It will be interesting to see what happens. J.

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    1. Dear Janice - it is a captivating story, and the bones, yes, the bones. Whoever gets them will probably find that they are sitting on a pot of gold with regard to tourism.

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  9. Dear Rosemary,
    I have followed as much as that has been shown on BBC and Sky ..about Richard the lll ....
    When i saw them show the skull.. I thought , how could this be. One of the commentators said." If they are showing this to us, then they must be 95% sure it is him"..
    I watched the digging of the grave and the finding of his skeleton.. I was fascinated.
    Poor King. This is a story never to be forgotten.
    I was so so pleased to see that you wrote about it.
    The re construction of him is amazing.
    I am sure a book will be written about it, and that his remains will probably be put to rest in York Minster Abbey.
    How amazing is DNA.... I watched, while the forensic people ! took swabs from him. He is truly related to Richard the lll... Lots of historical facts to learn about this year.
    Thank you for posting this Rosemary..

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    1. Dear Val - glad you enjoyed the post - such a fascinating subject and much more to come I feel.
      It is good that you saw the programme - I have just done a little précis of the events.

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  10. What a fascinating story! I hear that York are 'claiming' the bones - another good story to unfold I suspect..

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    1. Yes, I suspect further battles ahead re: the bones, a honey pot for whoever gets them!!!
      In a way I feel that he should be returned to his roots, but at the same time all of the effort and work in finding him has been done in Leicester - whatever will be, will be!!!

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  11. Wow, such a fascinating discovery. Remains to be seen where Richard III will be buried.

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    1. A really remarkable bit of archaeology, and investigative work.

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  12. Thank you to all those who have let me know that the verification is now switch off - I will see how it goes.

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  13. Oh my, thanks for sharing the information/true story :) I heard about the remains but didn't know the remainder. Wonderful that he was found and who else is out there yet to be found!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post - it is a story that seems to be really capturing peoples imagination. One of my commenters says that they are going to look for Alfred the great next!!!

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  14. This is an exciting discovery in our time which brings history closer to us. Knowledge about our past is precious and hopefully as mentioned by many others here, the truth may now come to light about a lot of things form that period. Phillipa's story is an amazing one too - her belief carried this discovery.

    Minerva ~

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    1. That is correct - Philippa had such a strong belief after having studied maps and documents over many years. Her tenacity has been rewarded - she found it very emotional at the end.
      Archaeology is improving and moving forward so rapidly with the equipment that is currently available to them. Exciting times, and I am so pleased that my granddaughter is studying archaeology, I think she has much to look forward to in the future.

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  15. Your posts are always so interesting. I did not know much about Richard III, only as a name from history class at school! But you made ​​me curious and I researched the internet. So today I added extra knowledge because of you and thank you for this!
    Have a nice day !
    Olympia

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    1. Dear Olympia - that is what is so wonderful about blogging, we can learn so much from one another, it can open fresh doors for us.
      Thank you for your very kind comment - I am so pleased that it encouraged you to research on the internet to find out more.

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  16. Dear Rosemary, Re word verification and spam. Because you are a blogger you need to set up your Gmail account with 2-step verification, if you haven't already. If your Gmail account gets hackend (it's happening more and more) Blogger shuts down your blog as well.
    Please read further here. http://betweennapsontheporch.net/restoration-hardware-inspired-bathroom-renovation/
    Go to second paragraph for instructions.

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    1. Thanks Gina - I will check that out.

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  17. This is a fascinating topic for anyone interested in history and archaeology. I find the facial reconstruction through 3D computer programmes and modelling one of the most interesting and moving aspects of such a project.

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    1. The reconstructed face is very interesting - he certainly doesn't look like a tyrant, but then again what does a tyrant look like?

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  18. I look forward to more unveiling - perhaps more about the life of Richard. I'd always thought he couldn't have been the completely villainous man he'd been portrayed as - perhaps his infirmity was seen as a reflection of character in those days. Of course, I love the Canadian connection.

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    1. Apparently his scoliosis would not have been particularly visible when clothed - he was given the horrific hunch back by Shakespeare and then subsequently in the film of Richard lll staring Laurence Olivier. My brother in Toronto will enjoy the Canadian connection too.

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  19. Ah - you have done away with word verification. I'm so glad. It can sometimes take 2-3 tries to comment if the numbers and letters are terribly thick or smeary-looking. I'm at the point where I only comment on a word-verified blog if I really, really like it, otherwise I just move on. I just take care of spam when I see it, by going to the list of comments and making the ones in questions 'spam'. Blogger deletes them and then doesn't let them back in. I get less than one a week now.

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    1. I will see how I get on - fingers crossed

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  20. Yikes! Fewer than one a week!

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  21. Dear Rosemary - I read this story in today's newspaper, and I find it fascinating. I'd love to read more — undoubtedly a publication like National Geographic will jump on the tale and flush out the details beautifully. I imagine it must have been breathtaking for the soul digging when that curved spine started to appear! And I hope that Richard III is reinterred with all due pomp. I should think nothing less than Westminster Abbey would do!

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    1. Dear Mark - I think that wherever his bones finally rest, it will become a tourists hotspot. I tend to veer towards him being reinterred in York Minster, mainly because he was a man of York.

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    2. That makes perfect sense, of course.

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  22. Hello Rosemary, What a remarkable discovery, and one that will reopen serious investigation of that segment of history. I do find it a little too handy that the interested parties found the bones so easily, and after a psychic premonition, so I will keep my sense of caution fully turned on during the ensuing developments. Also, how does a DNA relationship to a relative of Richard III "prove" that the bones are of Richard himself?
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Hello Jim - it is only sensible to have a degree of scepticism, especially considering more than 500 years have elapsed. It wasn't totally a psychic premonition, the car park was actually the site of the Grey Friars church and it was known that the priests from the church bravely claimed the body of the king and buried him in a hastily dug grave. He was naked but in a position of honour near where the high altar of the church had stood. Turi King, leader of the DNA team, said she completed her work confirming the mitochondrial DNA match only on Saturday night, but she intends to do more work on the Y chromosome through the male line. There is of course the other issue of the scoliosis spine which Richard was known to have.
      Philippa has spent many years pouring over old manuscripts and maps of the area where the battle took place, but you are right to err on the side of caution.

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  23. Such an important and exciting discovery!! I read that the "remains have been identified beyond reasonable doubt." And also "a bit of skepticism among the archaeological community." Still, as someone who loves European history and antiques, I am optimistic and delighted. Look forward to more on this!

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    1. Dear Loi - I am sure that this is just the beginning of the journey. Archeologists have much more equipment and resources now than they ever did before. My granddaughter is in her second year of a degree in archeology at Oxford at the moment. I think that she is studying a subject which is at the forefront of making some exciting developments at this time.

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  24. What a discovery. Phillipa "felt" he was in the car park? Interesting.

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    1. Dear Olive - she knew from studying manuscripts and old maps that the car park was the site of the old church were he was said to have been buried. However, she did have a sense of the place where he was found, which was, I suppose a premonition.

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  25. Dear Rosemary,your post is very interesting,i heard about this discovery in the news,thanks for sharing those informations with us!
    Have a lovely week!
    Dimi..

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    1. Dear Dimi - the world is so small these days with instant news flashed all around it so quickly. It is an exciting discovery for us living here, particularly those of us interested in our history. I am sure there will be more to follow as a result of finding the bones.

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  26. I've been following this fascinating story--makes me wonder just what other "discoveries" are yet to be found in the most unlikely places. Is it true that some are calling for a state funeral to bury him now?

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    1. Apparently they are going to start looking for the bones of King Alfred the Great in a churchyard in Winchester. However, if they do discover his bones it will be much more difficult to establish the identity through any descendants today from DNA as the time span is almost 1200 years ago.

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  27. It was on the news here tonight. An amazing story.

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    1. Dear Marian - it is a story that seems to have gripped everyones imagination, and not only in our country.

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  28. thanks you very interesting...he is my husbands ancestor...

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    1. That is interesting Sharon - why don't you do a post it would be fascinating?

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  29. Its amazing, I read it on the newspaper the other day. Archeology always fascinated me!

    xoxxo

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    1. I think that there will be much more leading on from this find Demie - it is a fascinating coup for the Archaeologists - my granddaughter is in her second year doing archaeology.

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  30. Fantastic story. I'm not that great with history but always fascinated by the royals. Amazing that Philippa felt the vibe standing in the carpark! x

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    1. Yes, that was strange, and her reaction is all on camera too!!!

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  31. I smell a movie on the way... What a fascinating story. With regard to Philippa and her "sensation" fact is indeed stranger than fiction!

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    1. You are right Rosemary - this tale has an awful lot more mileage in it.

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  32. Living in North Yorkshire, we know all about the Richard III society (though we don't belong to it.) Richard spent part of his childhood in the small village of Middleham, in the castle there. Mass is still said in the local church on the anniversary of his death. As you've probably know, Yorkshire is keen to claim his remains. You can never have too many tourist attractions!

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    1. Wherever the bones go Nilly it is bound to be a money spinner - I tend to veer towards him being returned to Yorkshire, being Yorkshire born and bred. However, I expect Leicester feel that they have put in a lot of investment and time on the project. We shall have to see how it unfolds.

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  33. Whatever happens from here on in, this is probably the most remarkable archaeological find next to the uncovering of the dead Princes or maybe the skeleton of King Arthur (if he ever existed). I know the bones of two dead boys were found in the Tower at some point in the 1600's, but don't know much more than that. Maybe it's time to do a DNA on those bones?

    Because of all this new technology we're in for some more startling discoveries. I'm sure of it. But I'm wondering why the King's hands were tied behind his back. Could he have survived the initial blow??

    Lots to think about.

    I enjoyed reading your post, Rosemary. You filled in some of the gaping holes in mine. :)

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    1. Dear Yvette - my granddaughter is in her second year studying archaeology at Oxford, and I am delighted to think that she is entering a profession that is moving so quickly from the shadows as the cinderella of the science world to being at the forefront.
      The bones from the Tower I understand are going to have DNA done on them. King Arthur - was Camelot and Cadbury Hill, figment or truth?
      I do know that they plan to look for the bones of Alfred the Great. Archaeologists are applying for permission to dig up an unmarked grave where the bones of the Anglo Saxon king are thought to lie in St. Bartholomew's churchyard, Winchester.
      The way he had been left near the church but not in any tomb, with his hands tied behind his back - perhaps it was a humiliation and to make him appear un-regal?

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  34. It's an extraordinary story, Rosemary. I've recorded the Channel 4 documentary and will be watching it with great interest this evening.

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    1. Dear Perpetua - you will enjoy the programme - the story seems to have excited imaginations all around the world.

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