Face to Face with History

The remains of King Richard III were found earlier this year after a four year search led by Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society. The king, who reigned for only 2 years, died aged 32 in 1485 the Battle of Bosworth Field where he was defeated by Henry VII. His body lay in an unmarked grave for centuries, beneath what finally became a council car park in Leicester, England.

Shown above facing Michael Ibsen, one of King Richard III’s descendants , his reconstructed visage shows features that appear kind and prominent. The distinctive chin and long nose match the portraits and descriptions of the monarch. Fans of Shakespeare will know Richard the Third as a tyrant with slanted eyes, hunched back and cruel frown, but we are now able to see for ourselves a more accurate effigy lacking the centuries-long stereotyping.

This facial reconstruction of King Richard III was created by scanning and measuring his skull. No ‘hints’ were taken from the various portraits of the king as to the shape and size of his features, which are accurate to within 2mm, as the modellers did not want to be biased by preconceived imagery. Clues towards his skin colour, eyebrows and hair were however drawn from these paintings and historical documents.

While his face might not be as evil as the Tudors painted him, the monarch really did have a curve in his spine which would have given him a hunched appearance, as is evidenced in this photo of Richard III’s skeletal remains taken at Leicester University:

Not every long gone monarch is as ‘easy’ to find as Richard III. The remains of King Alfred, also referred to as Alfred the Great, has had quite a rough time since his burial in 899. But that story is for another post… 😉