Take a 3D Tour of Richard III's Grave

Illustration for article titled Take a 3D Tour of Richard III's Grave

Richard III is best known as the eponymous villain in one of Shakespeare’s plays, and second best known for having his body discovered in a car park in 2012. The remains were re-interred in a suitably sober fashion, but now you can get a 3D glimpse at what the king’s original grave looked like.


People first began speculating that the former king of England’s remains were under a car park in 1975, but it took until 2012 for the remains to be unearthed, and another year for the finding to be confirmed as Richard III. And University of Leicester scientists have not stopped working, both to expand our knowledge of history, and to spark the public’s interest in history.

To do the latter, the Leicester scientists used Sketchfab, a 3D sharing platform, to take people “into” the grave. You can browse freely, or take a quick tour by clicking on five annotated highlights. One focuses on the spine, which is noticeably crooked. In Shakespeare’s play, Richard III’s villainy springs up from the fact that he is an unattractive “hunchback.” Historians have wondered whether Richard’s curved spine was mere propaganda.

Another annotation shows that the grave was poorly dug and too short for the body—the skull is propped up on a wall. Richard lost his crown at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. The victor, Henry Tudor—father to the more-famous Henry VIII—declared himself the legitimate king and Richard the usurper of the crown. That’s probably why he wasn’t buried with any kind of care or ceremony. A king ended up in a hole in the ground.

If you want to take a look, go ahead and check out the grave on Sketchfab.


Interesting article, thanks for posting it. I recently read Defending the Island: From Caesar to the Armada by Norman Longmate which was written before the discovery of the skeleton. Longmate mentioned that while there was no substantial evidence for Richard III to be hunch-backed, it is mentioned that his right shoulder was higher than his left, which Longmate said could be possibly attributed to extensive practice with the longbow as a youth.

With the discovery of the skeleton, according to this article by US News and World Report Health, we can now understand why his right shoulder would have been higher than his left. This makes more sense, since many men would have practiced with the longbow and so a stronger, raised right shoulder wouldn’t have been anything unusual, if that condition actually occurred due to longbow use.

I do wonder however if the deformity of the spine would have resulted in chronic pain or at least discomfort. That might explain some of his later behaviour!