Richard III: How Loughborough university experts recreated the king's battle-scarred skull
Experts have used a 3D printer to create an exact replica of Richard III's battle-scarred skull.
Created by experts at Loughborough University, the plastic model will go on display at a new exhibition about the search for the king.
Using cutting-edge technology, the 3D skull was created from a CT scan of the remains.
The scans were turned into a computer image, and then layer by layer, a high-powered laser fused powdered plastic into the exact shape of the king's skull.
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"It was absolutely fantastic to work on something of such age and historical significance," said Russell Harris, professor of medical engineering and advanced manufacturing at Loughborough University.
"It was just a CT scan, so the first time we reconstructed it in 3D on the computer it was amazing.
"And then, to see it created – it was absolutely fantastic."
Professor Harris and his colleagues were asked to create the skull by the archaeology team at the University of Leicester when the remains were found in the Grey friars car park last year.
"Leicester Royal Infirmary did the CT scan, which is like a 3D x-ray," Prof Harris said. "The technique produces a sequence of images.
"What we needed to do was convert that sequence of pictures into the boundaries of the bones."
After creating a computer image of the skull, they used a technique called additive manufacturing – or, more commonly, 3D printing – to create the plastic skull.
"It is done by growing the slices of the image sequentially, one slice after another, to give us the model," he added. Two skulls were created – one for the university and another for a new exhibition at the medieval Guildhall, in the city centre, which opens to the public on Friday.
Richard III: Leicester's Search for a King will bring together the evidence from scientists, historians and archaeologists to tell the story of the Plantagenet king's life, death and burial. Touch-screen technology will show how experts finally confirmed the remains are those of King Richard III.
Leicester city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "The story of the discovery of these remains, and the fantastic work by the University of Leicester to analyse and identify them, has been beyond the wildest expectations of anyone involved, and this exhibition will bring that thrilling story to life.
"The model of the skull is astonishing and gives visitors a unique chance to come face to face with one of the most controversial characters from Britain's stormy medieval history."
Sir Peter announced on Monday that a permanent exhibition about Richard III, housed in St Martin's Place, part of the former Leicester Grammar School, in Peacock Lane, would open early next year.
A graphic novel-style exhibition depicting the life and death of the king will also open at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre on Friday.
Richard III: The Making of a Myth tells the story of his ultimate demise at Bosworth Field, through Manga-style art by John Aggs.
Leicestershire County Council leader Nick Rushton said: "The illustrations are very striking and it is an original look at one of the most famous battles in English history as well as attempting to debunk some of the myths surrounding Richard III."