The blow that killed King Richard III in battle was so powerful that it went up through the base of his brain and left an indentation on the inside of his skull, scientists studying his remains have revealed.
Footage that shows the moment when scientists discovered the extent of the injuries suffered by the Plantagenet king – who was the last English king to die in battle – has been released.
In the video, Professor Guy Rutty, a forensic pathologist at University of Leicester, is shown discovering two wounds at the base of the skull.
The findings suggest that a weapon such as a sword or a spike had been thrust upwards through the base of the king’s neck so hard that it had gone straight through his brain to the other side of his skull.
It comes two months after genetic analysis of the battle scarred skeleton, discovered under a council car park in Leicester three years ago, did belong to Richard III.
Scientists studying the remains believe the king was surrounded by a mob of enemy soldiers and hacked to death after he had lost his helmet.
Using modern medical scanners, they established that the English monarch suffered 11 devastating injuries at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.
Dr Jo Appleby, who led the exhumation of the skeleton from the Greyfriars car park, said: ‘Following the identification of a major sharp force trauma to the base of the skull, which was probably inflicted by a sword or the top spike of a bill or halberd, we were interested to determine the angle of the blow.
“Professor Rutty noted a small traumatic lesion on the interior surface of the cranium, directly opposite the sharp force trauma.
‘Careful examination showed that the two injuries lined up with one another, and also with an injury to Richard’s first cervical vertebra.
‘The combination of all three injuries provided evidence for the direction of the injury and also the depth to which the weapon had penetrated the skull.’
According to findings published earlier by the scientists in the Lancet medical journal, the lethal blows came from one of two devastating swipes to the back of the head.
One was delivered by a halberd – a vicious axe-like weapon used in the late Medieval period – and the other by a sword.
The researchers found that the skeleton had two additional injuries, which they think may have been inflicted after his enemies tore his armour from his lifeless body.
One injury – to the buttocks – probably came as his bloodied body was paraded around the battle ground, the researchers suggest.
The medical evidence establishes the most detailed account of Richard’s death ever attempted.
Professor Rutty, who led the examination of the remains and has worked as a Home Office pathologist for 19 years, described seeing the injuries in the skull lined up as a ‘eureka moment’.
He said: ‘I was able to look at the large injury in the base of the skull and, through experience, I was able to identify the key injury.’
Professor Sarah Hainsworth, a materials engineer at Leicester University also involved in the study, added: ‘Using modern forensic examination, we have discovered that Richard’s skeleton sustained 11 wounds at or near the time of his death – nine of them to the skull, which were clearly inflicted in battle.
‘The injuries to the head suggest he had either removed or lost his helmet. The other two injuries that we found were to a rib and his pelvis.’
Source: Daily Mail