Hauberks Under Car Parks: The Latest Archaeological Trend

What is it about finding medieval bigshots under car parks in the past year? (And for those of you who are not versed in British terminology, a car park is simply a parking lot.) I lovingly use the term “bigshot” because in recent news, both a king of England and a medieval knight have been found in the United Kingdom. For those of you new to my blog, I am a fan (or dedicated researcher is a term I prefer) of the English monarchy and of medieval/early modern English history in general so this type of news always catches my attention.

Originally I wanted to post a series of articles detailing the finding of Richard III, but I decided against it in light of the intense media coverage and scrutiny. It is easy enough to find articles about the search. So let me sum this up quickly.

The University of Leicester, the Richard III Society, and the City of Leicester undertook a collaborative effort to search for the Greyfriars Church in Leicester, England in August/September 2012 to find Richard III. Richard III (1452-1485) was the son of Richard Plantagenet, duke of York, and the formidable Cecily Neville. His elder brother was the English king Edward IV (grandfather of the venerable Henry VIII), and he himself reigned as king of England from 1483 until his untimely death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Although Richard introduced administrative and judicial innovations, his reign is marred by the disappearance and probably death of his nephews, Edward V and Richard, duke of York.

The bodies of these princes were supposedly found in the Tower of London but were reinterred in Westminster under the direction of Charles II. Two skeletons, of children around the same ages of the princes, had indeed been found but could not be conclusively identified without further DNA analysis.

Were the princes murdered? If so, who did it? In one of history’s greatest “whodunit” mysteries, we are still seeking those answers today. Suspects range from Richard himself to Henry Tudor. Feasible theories exist for several scenarios, but little contemporary and physical evidence points to any one widely regarded theory.

That is not to say that Richard does not fall under suspicion. Indeed, under the Tudor regime, Richard, at one point a very popular authority figure, became a disfigured, murdering tyrant. I am not wholly convinced to either side, but I will say that the discovery of his body is very interesting for history (regardless of your own personal viewpoint).

Okay, enough of that. That was a little longer than “quickly”. My apologies.

Another noble was found under a car park in Scotland. The area was cleared to make room for the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. Well, I’m pretty sure this medieval knight created enough carbon in his life and death to warrant the creation of such a building (which incidentally had been used for the archaeology department at the University of Edinburgh, according to the Atlantic Wire).

Needless to say, the discovery of both of these bodies is absolutely fascinating. It makes me wonder if any finds like this have occurred in the United States. If you do know of any, please feel free to comment below.

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