The facial reconstruction of Richard III
Leicester’s search for a King

19 February - 16 March 2014

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This display combines the facial depiction of Richard III’s head with two objects from the British Museum’s permanent collection relating to the king, Richard’s admiralty seal matrix and a boar badge. The facial depiction of King Richard III was created by Professor Caroline Wilkinson and the forensic art team of the University of Dundee. The head is exhibited by kind permission of the Richard III Society as part of a national tour organised by Leicester Arts and Museums Service.

In partnership with the Richard III Society and Leicester City Council, the University of Leicester undertook excavations in central Leicester with the aim of finding out more about the Grey Friars Franciscan friary and to discover whether the remains of King Richard III still rested there. In an extraordinary partnership of historians, scientists and archaeologists, the skeleton of an adult male was identified conclusively as the king. The DNA and other scientific analysis, the battle trauma the individual had suffered and the clear scoliosis of the spine all matched up to the contemporary historical evidence of who Richard was and how he died. In Spring 2014, Leicester will be opening an exciting new visitor’s centre so that everyone can find out more about the life and death of Richard III, as well as discovering the story of this unique archaeological investigation and the techniques that were applied to identify the skeleton.

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Creating a King

This model featured in the Channel 4 documentary, The King in the Car Park. It was commissioned by the Richard III Society and made by Professor Caroline Wilkinson and the forensic art team at the University of Dundee. State of the art techniques have been used to show what King Richard III would have looked like in life. Starting with the data gathered from a CT scan of the skull, the layers of muscle that compose the face are built up on a computer. Data about the average thickness of muscle layers and facial features is used to ensure that the model is an accurate estimate for the age, gender and race of the individual. The 3D model is produced as a 3D printout in a plastic polymer. The technique is called stereolithography. Layers of the polymer are built up in the desired shape and set using ultra violet light. The piece is carefully painted to give it a life-like feel. The eyes are mounted internally using wax and glue. Finishing details like the style and colour of Richard’s hair and hat were taken from near contemporary portraits of the king.

Admiralty Seal of Richard Duke

Admiralty Seal of Richard Duke of Gloucester as admiral

Boar badge representing the livery of Richard III,

Boar badge representing the livery of Richard III