More than 500 years after his death, members of the public can look King Richard III in the eye once more, following the unveiling of a reconstruction of how he may have looked.
Based on human remains found beneath a carpark in Leicester city centre by University of Leicester Archaeological Services, and recently identified as those of England’s last Medieval monarch, the model was created by Caroline Wilkinson, Professor of craniofacial identification at the University of Dundee and unveiled yesterday (5 Feb) at the Society of Antiquaries in London.
Beginning with a 3D scan of the king’s skull, layers of muscle and skin were built up digitally on a computer. The result was then used to create a plastic model, which was painted and dressed in period-appropriate clothing.
‘His facial structure was produced using a scientific approach, based on anatomical assessment and interpretation, and a 3D replication process known as stereolithography,’ said Professor Wilkinson. ‘The final head was painted and textured with glass eyes and a wig, using the portraits as reference, to create a realistic and regal appearance.’
She added: ‘It was a great privilege for us all in the Dundee team to work on this important investigation. It has been enormously exciting to rebuild and visualise the face that could be Richard III, and this depiction may allow us to see the King in a different light.’
The model was commissioned and funded by the Richard III Society, who were closely involved with the excavation during which the king’s remains were found.
‘It’s an interesting face, younger and fuller than we have been used to seeing, less careworn, and with the hint of a smile,’ said Dr Phil Stone, chairman of the Richard III Society. ‘When I first saw it, I thought there is enough of the portraits about it for it to be King Richard but not enough to suggest they have been copied.’
The facial reconstruction will eventually be loaned to Leicester City Council to be displayed in their planned visitors centre adjacent to the Greyfriars site, which will be dedicated to telling the story of King Richard III’s life and death.
Read our full report on how Richard III’s remains were found and identified here.