• John Ashdown-Hill was asked by Belgian colleagues to find a mtDNA sequence for Richard III and his siblings.


  • John Ashdown-Hill located Joy Ibsen in Canada - 16th generation all-female-line descendant of Richard III's eldest sister, Anne of York.
  • The BBC commissioned John Ashdown-Hill to write on the Fate of Richard III's Body for its website Local Legends.
  • John concluded that the story that Richard III had been dug up and thrown into the river Soar was a myth.


  • Joy Ibsen's (and Richard III's) mtDNA was sequenced for the first time.
  • Encouraged by Philippa Langley, John Ashdown-Hill made a proposal to Time Team for the excavation of Richard III's grave site at the Leicester Greyfriars. 
  • The proposal included a photograph, showing where John thought the Greyfriars Church and Richard's body would be found. 
  • This photograph (later published in John's book The Last Days of Richard III) was a very accurate prediction. 
  • Sadly, after showing some interest in the project, Time Team decided that its usual time allocation of three days would probably be inadequate for the work.
  • If Time Team had said yes, Richard III's body would have been found in 2006!!!


  • John Ashdown-Hill published the DNA sequence for the first time in The Ricardian.


  • John Ashdown-Hill did further research on the fate of Richard III's body.


Artwork by Riikka Nikko: John Ashdown-Hill carrying the remains of Richard III

  • Philippa Langley founded the Looking for Richard Project. Encouraged by Philippa Langley, John wrote for the first time to ULAS (University of Leicester Archaeological Services), seeking to interest them in the project - but received no reply.


  • John Ashdown-Hill published the whole of his research relating to the fate of Richard III's body and his DNA in his book, The Last Days of Richard III.


  • Thanks to the persistence of Philippa Langley, Leicester City Council and ULAS finally agreed to the project. 
  • Philippa Langley arranged for ground penetrating radar on the site.


  • Principally funded by the Richard III Society and its members, excavation began, On the first day Richard III's body was found. 
  • John Ashdown-Hill carried the exhumed body to the vehicle which finally removed it from the Greyfriars site.


For more information, please visit the Looking for Richard Project site.

If you would like to know more about the ground-breaking work involved in the search for Richard III ...

The Last Days of Richard III and the fate of his DNA - the book that inspired the dig

The Last Days of Richard III contains a new and uniquely detailed exploration of Richard's last days. By deliberately avoiding the hindsight knowledge that he will lose the Battle of Bosworth Field, we discover a new Richard: no passive victim, awaiting defeat and death, but a king actively pursuing his own agenda. It also re-examines the aftermath of Bosworth: the treatment of Richard's body; his burial; and the construction of his tomb. And there is the fascinating story of why, and how, Richard III's family tree was traced until a relative was found, alive and well, in Canada. Now, with the discovery of Richard's skeleton at the Greyfriars Priory in Leicester, England, John Ashdown-Hill explains how his book inspired the dig and completes Richard III's fascinating story, giving details of how Richard died, and how the DNA link to a living relative to the king allowed the royal body to be identified.

Available as book and ebook