Local expert used wounds to help identify remains of Richard III

tley’s Bob Woosnam-Savage (second from right), the curator of European Edged Weapons at the Royal Armouries, and the rest of the Greyfriars research team

tley’s Bob Woosnam-Savage (second from right), the curator of European Edged Weapons at the Royal Armouries, and the rest of the Greyfriars research team

First published in News by

A historical weapons expert from Otley has spoken about his key role in working out the final moments of King Richard III.

Bob Woosnam-Savage said it was a “privilege” to be part of the team whose work led to this week's confirmation that a skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park was that of the last English monarch to die in battle.

Curator of European Edged Weapons at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, Mr Woosnam-Savage used his expertise to piece together how Richard died in the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Reflecting on his participation in the Leicester University-led investigation, he said: “I was looking at the trauma of the skeleton, trying to identify which medieval weapons might have been used to inflict the wounds.

“The main ones were a halberd, which took a slice of his skull off at the back, and a puncture wound from a long-bladed dagger or sword.

“Those are the wounds that would have proved fatal.

“These wounds, and most of those to the skull, are to the rear and I think that was deliberate – to keep his face undamaged so his identity couldn't be disputed.”

Historical accounts say Richard III was slain while leading a mounted charge against Henry Tudor.

Mr Woosnam-Savage says the damage to the skeleton is consistent with him being attacked from all sides – but also includes injuries which were caused after death.

He said: “These ‘insult injuries’ might have included the small stab wound to the face, a stab in the back from behind, which struck a rib and, perhaps most tellingly, a stab wound to the buttocks."

Called in to examine the remains before Christmas, he found the circumstantial evidence for the skeleton being that of Richard III – which included its curvature of the spine and the battle wounds – compelling.

“It’s been a privilege to work on this, it's not every day you get to literally put a name and a face to a medieval king.

Despite his recent high profile - Richard III: The King In The Car Park was shown on Channel 4 on Monday - Mr Woosnam-Savage has yet to be mobbed by local fans.

He said: "Some people in Otley know what I do, but not many. I go to Middlemiss butchers where we sometimes compare the best way of taking off a head, which gets me some strange looks!"

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