Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!

Roundworm Eggs Found in Richard III’s Grave

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

LEICESTER, ENGLAND—Microscopic eggs from roundworms, a parasite spread through the swallowing of food, water, or soil contaminated with infected fecal matter, have been discovered in soil taken from Richard III’s hastily dug grave. A higher concentration of eggs was found in soil taken from his skeleton’s pelvic area, where his intestines would have been, indicating that the king did indeed have a roundworm infection. “Despite Richard’s noble background, it appears that his lifestyle did not completely protect him from intestinal parasite infection, which would have been very common at the time,” said bioarchaeologist Jo Appleby of the University of Leicester. Roundworm eggs could also have come from human waste dumped at the site at a later date. No other species of intestinal parasites were found among the king’s remains, however.