Discovering Richard III
The discovery of Richard III’s skeleton is exciting historical news but how best to introduce it in the classroom? It’s a good story but forty minutes of story-telling will not hold the attention of many KS3 classrooms without an activity for them to tackle. This activity offers just one way of introducing this discovery (I’m sure there are several others) and can be used in conjunction with another Richard III activity on this site [HERE …]
The main question this activity asks is what we can learn from Richard’s skeleton with students being asked to decide which questions about Richard III the skeletal evidence help us answer.
If wished, this can then lead to a more demanding discussion of whether some historical questions are more important to answer than others – but only you can decide if your students can tackle this.
By the end of this activity students will have had the opportunity to know and understand:
- How Richard III’s skeleton was discovered and identified
- Why Richard III has created arguments and controversy
- Which questions about Richard can and cannot be answered from the skeletal evidence
They may also have the chance to discuss whether some historical questions are more important to answer than others.
1. What’s the connection?
Use these slides as an interest-raising puzzle to identify the connection between Richard III and a car park. If you use this while the discovery is in the news some students may spot this straight away but you can still use this slide sequence to tell the first part of the story of the discovery.
It’s up to you to give this story buzz, zing and an atmosphere of discovery to build up information on Richard as you fizz through the slides.
2. What did the archaeologists discover?
This sequence of slides reveals what was discovered beneath the car park and how DNA made the link to Richard III.
For further information see:
• Leicester University website
• Richard III Society website
3. Which questions does Richard’s skeleton answer?
For the final stage of the activity use the 5 cards on the attached sheets – they set out five puzzles about Richard III. Working in pairs or small groups students should decide which of these questions can be answered using the skeletal evidence. [The answer’s two – what he looked like and how he died!] For feedback students can summarise the new answers to these questions and explain why the skeletons don’t help answer the other questions.
If there’s time and it’s an appropriate question for the class you could then move onto ask students to group the questions in order of importance – which are the most and least important questions to answer – and why they think some questions are more important than others.
You might not get that far – or want to get that far – but the earlier part of the activity will have introduced students to one of the startling historical discoveries of recent years!