'We didn't expect to find king's remains ... then we saw the legs sticking out'
WHEN teacher Martyn Henson became involved with a dig to find Richard III's remains, he admits there wasn't much hope.
But the discovery of the skeleton underneath a Leicester car park turned it into what he now describes as an "opportunity of a lifetime".
Mr Henson, a history and archaeology teacher at Wilsthorpe School in Long Eaton, got involved with the excavation last summer.
He said: "We didn't expect to find it. It was like finding a needle in a stack of needles.
With every new aerial installed by AMC aerials I will fit an extra point in your bedroom or kitchen for an extra £10
New aerials fitted from £70
Call Adrian on 01332 418856
Terms: Must be an aerial supplied and fitted by AMC aerials
Contact: 01332 418856
Valid until: Friday, July 12 2013
"Digs are always a bit hit and miss but I was really keen to have a go."
It was confirmed yesterday that the remains found under the car park were those of the English king.
Mr Henson said they revealed the lost remains in the first few digger scoops of the excavation.
He said: "We saw the lower legs sticking out. Once we dug the rest out, we saw the curvature of the spine on the skeleton. It was an opportunity of a lifetime.
"A bone specialist had to excavate it because it was so high profile. We couldn't get the skeleton contaminated because of DNA."
Mr Henson said he believed Richard III had been the victim of "Tudor propaganda". He said: "He was known as a hunchback, with a withered hand, but, actually, he was a great warrior and he wouldn't have been able to do that if he was as disabled as was thought.
"We knew it would have been exaggerated a bit."
Anne Ayres, secretary of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Richard III Society, said she was overwhelmed when she heard the remains were those of Richard III.
Mrs Ayres said: "It's amazing news. When they discovered it, they pointed out five things which were circumstantial evidence.
"The last point was that the skeleton had scoliosis in its spine. Ever since then, I have been certain it was him.
"Nothing can really prepare you for the feelings I had when I found out it was him, because the thought of him being buried under a car park really wasn't fitting.
"It's good to know he will be put in a proper place of internment at Leicester Cathedral."
Mrs Ayres added that Richard III "did a lot of good for the working man". She said: "He introduced a jury and bail system and laws preventing corruption amongst officials.
"The Tudors gave him bad press because they had a poor claim to the throne. They had to denigrate Richard's side as much as possible."
Mrs Ayres said, although Richard III did not have any ties to Derbyshire and spent most of his time in Nottinghamshire, he may have once visited Burton.
She said: "He may have visited Burton Abbey with his wife, Anne, to pray for a successful pregnancy.
"They only had one child together."
Mrs Ayres added she thought it was "lucky" his body was found under a car park. She said: "After the dissolution of the monasteries, the area he was buried was a garden before becoming a car park. This actually preserved the archaeology."