Medieval Mayhem at Southampton YAC!
‘Leicester we forget!' was just one of the headlines that broke at Southampton YAC’s November meeting as we reported the discovery of Richard III – the King of the car park. Martha Simms, Assistant Leader at Southampton YAC (and recently graduated young archaeologist herself!) reports...
Richard III: Good guy or bad bloke?!
Our Young Archaeologists started the session by debating whether Richard was a goody or a baddy – helped by Horrible Histories! We looked at his family tree and acted out the succession of kings by passing the crown between five brave volunteers who acted as Henry VI, Richard Duke of York, Edward IV, Edward V and Richard III... sorry Edward V, no crown for you!
Edward V was never crowned, and was actually only king for 86 days (from 9th April 1483 till 26th June 1483). Edward V was only 13 at the time, and during his reign, his uncle and Lord Protector, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was seen as actually in charge. It was Richard who succeeded him as Richard III on 26th June 1483 – Edward V falls out of the story at this point and he and his younger brother (another Richard!) were imprisoned at the Tower of London becoming known as the Princes in the Tower. They disappeared, and many people think that Richard III may have been responsible for their murder!
Our coats of arms
Next we created our own coat of arms, just like Richard would have paraded on the battlefield the day he died. At break we went wild in a wide game called Kingibats where the last man standing was crowned the king. In Richard's case the last man standing standing, sadly, was Henry VII!
Looking for Richard
In the second part of the session, we learnt about the excavation that found (against all odds) the King in the car park. We had a go at some special but simple techniques that Philippa Langley of the Looking for Richard Project used to find Richard’s remains.
This involved map regression – a technique archaeologists use to see how land has changed over the years to gain clues of what once may have been on a site in the past. In our case we found streets called Friar’s Lane, Grey Friar’s Lane and indications of ruins that all pointed to the possible position of Richard’s burial.
Finally a number of plastic skulls played their part, as our creative group helped reconstruct each skull to look like a face – a technique used by the University of Leicester when the King had been found.
Once complete, some reconstructions seemed very realistic...whilst others were frankly creepy!
By Martha Simms – Assistant Leader, Southampton YAC
If you want to have a go at reconstructing your own faces from the past, check out YAC's brilliant facial reconstruction activity!
You can check out the resources we used to help our map regression activity by clicking here. (Reused from the Girlguiding Leicestershire website.)