Richard III and the Isotope Story

Big Research Question: What can isotope analysis find out about Richard III's lifestyle?

Richard III

What can isotope analysis tell us about the diet of our ancestors? What else does this reveal about where they lived? What did scientists discover about Richard III’s lifestyle both before and after becoming King?

Whilst using this activity teachers may wish to show students the original research paper and use this to illustrate how scientists share their research and discuss the need for peer review before publication. This supports coverage of Working Scientifically (England).

Curriculum key words: isotopes, relative atomic mass, proton, neutron, peer review
Resource type: Lesson activity including presentation slides, student sheets, teacher notes and useful weblinks.
Ages: 14-18



Featured Researcher: Read about Dr Angela Lamb's work as Isotope Geochemist and what attracted her to a career in research.

How to use this resource

at the start of a topic to …
  • engage students in a real life context relating to current research
  • to find out what students already know 
  • consolidate existing understanding

at the end of a topic to…
  • assess student understanding by challenging students to apply their learning to a new context
  • to provide a contemporary example of how scientists are pushing the boundaries in understanding a subject area further
  • add depth and challenge

within a topic to …
  • enhance students’ confidence in the analysis of data by providing the opportunity to work with data types beyond those obtained in the school laboratory
  • assess student understanding of specific aspects of working with data (working scientifically by applying their understanding in a new context)

  • as an independent learning activity 

  • to promote careers in STEM and show the varied work of scientists

Thank you to Dr Angela Lamb from the NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory for her involvement in the development of this resource.