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King Richard III Heads To York

Richard III 3, copyright The Richard III Society

7:42am 19th July 2013
(Updated 9:52am 19th July 2013)

A reconstruction head and face of King Richard III goes on show at the Yorkshire Museum today (Friday July 19th)

The replica head, made from detailed scans of King's Richard's skull will take pride of place in a new display looking at what is really known about the last Yorkist King. It is part of York’s city wide programme of events marking the importance of Richard III to the city.

The head will be on show from July 19 until October 13. Andrew Morrison, head curator at York Museums Trust, said: “We are delighted to be able to bring to York this construction of Richard III ‘s head. The discovery of his bones in Leicester has ignited a lot of interest in Richard III and his connections to the city. We will use the head as a centre piece to a new display looking at what we really know about the King - separating the facts from the fiction which so often surrounds him.”

Councillor Sonja Crisp, City of York Council's Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said: "I am delighted that the reconstruction of Richard III's head will be visiting York. Together with a programme of events being put together by organisations across the city to celebrate and commemorate the man and monarch, this welcome exhibit will help people learn more about the life and times of the medieval city and the last Yorkist King of England."

King Richard's reconstructed head was commissioned by the Richard III Society. The model head relies on pin-point details from a CT scan taken of the King's skull by Leicester Royal Infirmary, following the discovery of his remains beneath the Greyfriars car park in August 2012 by a team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester. It was created by the forensic art team of the University of Dundee, and offers the most accurate yet interpretation of what King Richard could have looked like in life.

The head will go on display in the museum’s Medieval Gallery, which also shows some of the museum’s objects connected to the King. These include the Middleham Jewel, which was found at Middleham Castle, Richard’s childhood home, and a silver boar badge which would have been worn by a loyal supporter of the King.

The Yorkshire Museum will run a number of summer events connected to Richard III, including hands on activities, a display of Richard III related books in the museum library and an actor dressed as the King during the summer holidays. 

The reconstructed head is in York as part of a city wide partnership to research and celebrate the Yorkist King. The City of York Council, York Minster, the University of York, York Museums Trust, the Richard III Society and the King's descendants have all been working together to develop a lively programme of special events which will help reveal what life was really like in Yorkshire during the time of King Richard III.

The head firstly went on show in Leicester in May and then to Bosworth Battlefield, before arriving at the Yorkshire Museum. It will also go to Northampton and the British Museum in London, before finally returning home to Leicester in spring 2014 to go on permanent display at the city's new Richard III visitor centre, which is being created at the former Leicester Grammar School in St Martin's Place, next to the grave site.

King Richard III and York 1483AD - 1485AD.

One of England’s most infamous monarchs, Richard III (1452-1485) had close connections to York and Yorkshire, having spent much of his youth living at Middleham Castle. Richard courted the goodwill of both the council and the Minster clergy. On the day of his coronation, the mayor and alderman rode to Middleham to present wine and food to Richard’s son Edward.

King Richard visited York several times during his short reign, and stayed for three weeks in 1483. He was met by the mayor and alderman, and was sprinkled with holy water at the entrance to the Minster. Presents worth £450 were given to him. Richard’s son Edward was crowned Prince of Wales at the Archbishop’s Palace behind the Minster.

York looked to Richard to help it at a time of economic decline, and actively championed his short reign. The city sent troops to support his cause, including 80 dispatched to support him after Henry Tudor’s invasion. They were too late and the Tudor era had begun.

‘King Richard, late mercifully reigning over us, was through great treason . . . piteously slain and murdered, to the great heaviness of this city,’ reported the mayor’s serjeant of the mace a day after Richard’s death at the Battle of Bosworth on August 22, 1485.

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