LEICESTER, England In one of Britains most dramatic modern archaeological discoveries, researchers in this English Midlands city announced Monday that the skeletal remains were undeniably those of King Richard III, for centuries the most widely reviled of English monarchs, paving the way for a possible reassessment of his brief but violent reign.
Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on a project to identify the bones, told reporters that tests and research since the remains were discovered last September made clear beyond reasonable doubt that the individual exhumed was indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England.
Richard Taylor, the University of Leicester registrar who coordinated the team of archaeologists, historians, genealogists and geneticists who worked to make the identification after the skeleton was found buried six feet below a corner of a municipal parking lot, said that the last piece of the scientific puzzle fell into place with DNA findings that became available Sunday, five months after the skeletal remains were uncovered.
At that point, he said, members of the team knew that they had achieved something historic.
The geneticist Turi King told a news conference held by the University of Leicester research team that DNA samples taken from two modern-day descendants of King Richard IIIs family matched those from the bones found at the site. One of the descendants, Michael Ibsen, is the son of a 16th-generation niece of King Richards. The second wished to remain anonymous, the researchers said.
The skeleton, moreover, had a gaping hole in the skull consistent with contemporary accounts of the battlefield blow that killed the monarch more than 500 years ago.
Officials of the University of Leicester said plans were now in hand to bury the bones in Leicesters Anglican cathedral, barely 100 yards from where the bones were found. A spokesman for the cathedral said that reburial would probably take place early next year as part of a memorial service honoring Richard as an English king.
Before the DNA findings came in, Taylor and other team members said, the university team had assembled a mounting catalog of evidence that pointed conclusively at the remains being those of the king. These included confirmation that the body was that of a man in his late 20s or early 30s, and that his high-protein diet had been rich in meat and fish, characteristic of a privileged life in the 15th century