During the ceremony, the king’s bones were laid out as if articulated in a lead casket along with bone fragments and scientific samples wrapped up in linen bags.The lead casket had been placed inside a 5-foot, 10-inch oak coffin built by Michael Ibsen, a descendant of Richard III’s elder sister, Anne of York.
“In order to pack the bones into the lead lined coffin, natural materials sourced from the British Isles which would have existed in the medieval period were used,” the University of Leicester said in a statement. “A combination of washed natural woolen fleece, wadding and unbleached linen were used for the layers of packing."
Face of Richard III Reconstructed
A rosary was also placed in the inner coffin and the final layer was an embroidered piece of Irish linen.
Once the lead casket was sealed, Ibsen fixed the lid of the outer coffin in position.
The ceremony -- carried ahead of the king’s reburial at Leicester’s Cathedral on March 26 -- was witnessed by representatives from the university, Leicester Cathedral, the City Council, the Richard III Society, an independent witness and relatives of Richard III who donated their DNA as part of the identification process.
All Hail King Richard! Details of Elaborate Burial Unveiled
The skeleton was found in 2012 beneath a car park. Mitochondrial DNA showed a match between Richard and two of his living relatives, confirming that the bones are indeed those of the king.
Further analysis shed light on his diet and disease, and even provided a blow-by-blow account of his final moments.
Depicted by William Shakespeare as a bloodthirsty usurper, Richard ruled England from 1483 to 1485. He was killed in 1485 in the Battle of Bosworth, which was the last act of the decades-long fight over the throne known as War of the Roses. England’s last king to die in battle, he was defeated by Henry Tudor, who became King Henry VII.
Richard III Killed by Sword Thrust Upwards Into Neck
Richard III’s coffin will travel through Leicestershire in a funeral procession on Sunday, March 22 before a service at the cathedral.
The following Thursday, after having rested in the Cathedral for four days, the mortal remains of Richard III will be finally reburied.
“The reinterment is considered to be a final act and there are no plans to reopen the tomb in the future,” the University of Leicester said.
Image: King Richard III’s twisted skeleton. Credit: University of Leicester