thinking about archaeology

Socks, cake and a burial cortege: Richard III approaches his last journey

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Leicester has today released full details of the journey that Richard III’s cortege will take to reach the cathedral, and arrangements for the reburial week. We expected a bit of fun and razzmatazz. But golly, this is a massive production for the city.

The place to go to get an idea of this is the City Council’s website, which details events, and the traffic arrangements that these will necessitate. For example, roads (“including car parks and driveways”) will be closed along the route of the cortege, now revealed in full. I’ve already mapped the rural routeThere’s an interesting variation from the original announcement, which suggested the journey would begin in Leicester. Now it starts at the battlefield, implying a hoped-for secretive exit from the university lab.

Now we can show where it will go in the city. The map below is adapted from a feature in the new British Archaeology (from which the above image is the opening spread; I was in Leicester taking photos on a cold January day, when suddenly the sun came out and flashed off the cathedral clock). No 10 is the cathedral, and 11 (inside the friary boundary) the grave and the visitor centre. I was rather hoping the route might have gone through the old friary grounds up New Street and past that car park, but I guess it’s too narrow.

Leicester map with cortegeThere’s something almost medieval in the council’s instruction to make sure your car doesn’t get nicked: “If your car or motorcycle is parked along the route on the day it will be ticketed and towed. If your home is along the route, please make sure your car or motorcycle is either on your own driveway, or parked legally away from the route…” It says please, but negotiation is not an option. We are very much in royal territory here.

The British Archaeology feature reviews events of the past couple of years, and anticipates the reburial with suggestions for things to look out for. Leicester has already changed because of the excavation, and works are still in progress. There is much to see of Richard III’s world, and there are clear signs that setting out to do this will become easier and more pleasurable. I’ll be visiting Leicester during the reburial week, and writing about events for the updated and extended paperback edition of Digging for Richard III (not out until much later in the year, so please read the hardback if you want the full background story in preparation for watching the reburial!).

Meanwhile, I’m trying to keep up with what’s happening now – including this commemorative gift. I’m not linking, to spare their blushes (when was Bosworth?):

“This year, you can have the experience of receiving some truly amazing socks. In the year 1487, King Richard III, fell in the battle of Bosworth in Leicestershire. March 26th, 2015, Richard III will be re-interred with appropriate ceremony. In honour of this momentous event, Soks4U will create a special line of socks that displays symbols commemorate the events in 1487. £18 will net you one pair of socks, plus mention in the Roll of Honour on Facebook. Rewards for contributions vary by level, but top out at 12 pairs gift subscription package, plus a King Richard post card and a thank you certificate for £160.”

And the poor man no longer has any feet! Perhaps it’s a spoof, but who knows? There are so many things being made and prepared, official, unofficial, and just odd. The re-creation of the skeleton in the grave in cake is at least one of those; but it did lead to the memorable opening line in the Birmingham Mail, “A sauce, a sauce, my kingdom for a sauce”. Somehow the cathedral is managing to maintain its dignity. It’s going to be very exciting to see the fully completed works inside.

To say nothing of what happens in the week they will rebury Richard III.

Birmingham Mail

Birmingham Mail

One response

  1. Long Live the King!!! . . . I think this is incredible for the people of England and an opportunity to relive history.

    March 20, 2015 at 6:58 pm

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