Richard III comes to Grahamstown

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Wednesday, 19th February 2014

Grahamstown, home of South Africa’s National Science Festival, will tell the story of one of history’s greatest archeological finds: the discovery of the remains of the lost king of England, Richard III, found under a parking lot in the English town of Leicester.

“And thus I clothe my naked villainy with odd ends stolen out of holy writ and seem a saint, when I most play the devil”~William Shakespeare, chronicles this famous king as devious deformed villain, whose controversial reign ended in a controversial death.

After his death at the Battle of Bosworth, Leicester in 1485, the grave site location of Richard III was shrouded in mystery for centuries until its discovery in 2012. Scifest Africa will not only tell the fascinating tale of the journey to this incredible archeological project, but of how a team of dedicated scientists were able to undoubtedly prove through DNA analysis, that they had indeed found the remains of King Richard III, the last English king to die in battle.

Part of this formidable team, is Professor Sarah Hainsworth, a member of the Mechanics and Materials Research Group in the Engineering Department at the University of Leicester, UK, who has a passion for forensic engineering. Her lecture titled ‘Forensic Analysis of Richard III’ will outline her work on the skeletal wounds of the king, and how she could identify, in accordance with history, his cause of death, through the types of blows received to the skull using Tool Mark Analysis. She will also cover how, interestingly enough, the hunchback reputation of Richard III seems to have been true, as the skeleton of the king was also found to be curved.

Although Richard III only reigned for two years, he was a somewhat popular king and his ill fated death ultimately changed the course of English history. His untimely death brought to end the memorable War of the Roses, and the beginning of the Tudor’s dynasty, after Henry Tudor was crowned King Henry VII. However, the popularity of Richard III didn’t end in death, and centuries later the Richard III Society was founded which, together with a team of scientists including Hainsworth, and the University of Leicester, worked tirelessly to find the lost king of England.

Join Professor Hainsworth at 18h30 on Sunday, 16 March in the Monument, Olive Schreiner Hall for this amazing conclusion to one of the greatest mysteries of the ages! Book early as limited seats are available!

Look out for other exciting features on the festival programme available at and contact the Ticket Office on 046 603 1106 for all bookings and more information.

Sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Scifest Africa is a project of the Grahamstown Foundation, and continues to be a centre of excellence as the largest science festival in sub-Saharan Africa.

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