Is this King Richard III's head? First image of battle-scarred skull
This is the first image of the battle-scarred skull that archaeologists believe could be Richard III's.
The striking photograph was released today by the University of Leicester ahead of its hugely-anticipated announcement regarding the identity of the remains found at the Greyfriars car park in the city last August.
More than 140 reporters, film crew and photographers were due to pack the university's council chamber at 10am to hear the eagerly-awaited verdict from lead archaeologist Richard Buckley.
In a meeting yesterday, academics assembled at the university to pull together evidence gathered during the past five months and finally decide how they would present the results to the world.
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The skull is just one part of the full remains found in Leicester city centre.
The university has investigated it for signs of damage to the back of the head – potentially caused by battle injuries.
The rest of the skeleton, which also includes battle marks and a curvature of the spine (scoliosis), will be revealed to the media at today's press conference.
Dr Jo Appleby, lecturer in human bioarchaeology in the university's school of archaeology and ancient history, who led the exhumation of the remains in September, said: "The skull was in good condition, although fragile, and was able to give us detailed information about this individual.
"It has been CT-scanned at high resolution in order to allow us to investigate interesting features in as much detail as possible. To determine whether this individual is Richard III we have built up a biological profile of its characteristics. We have also carefully examined the skeleton for traces of a violent death."
The remains were found in the grounds of a long-buried friary where the Yorkist king is believed to have been laid to rest after his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
"Since their exhumation last year, they have subjected to tests and examinations by archaeologists, geneticists, radiographers, pathologists and historians.''
A living descendant – a Canadian-born furniture maker from London, Michael Ibsen – was traced by genealogist John Ashdown-Hill and had his DNA tested against those of the Greyfriars remains.
Other tests, such as carbon dating, environmental sampling and facial reconstruction, were also used as part of the process.
The project was initiated by the Richard III Society, which approached the university in 2010. A documentary team also had exclusive access to the dig and the scientific tests and will air their program, Richard III: the King in the Car Park, tonight on Channel 4 at 9pm.