This research is part of a large international research team, led by Professor Takeshi Nakagawa of Newcastle University, studying the cores for clues about past climate and environmental change.
Radiocarbon is continuously produced in the upper atmosphere.
This fact should always be remembered when using radiocarbon dates.
But if they are earlier than 1485, then they can’t be Richard’s remains.
Radiocarbon dating is a commonly used technique which relies on the fact that, although 99% of carbon atoms have six protons and six neutrons (carbon-12), about 1% have an extra neutron (carbon-13) and about one atom in a trillion has two extra neutrons (carbon-14).
The small pieces of bone were combusted to produce carbon dioxide which was then put through a mass spectrometer.
Testing two pieces each at two different facilities should provide consistent results – and indeed it did. The proportion of C-14 in the atmosphere, and hence in living things, is not constant but varies over the centuries, and it also varies between the atmosphere and the oceans.