A facial reconstruction of King Richard III based on a CT
scan of human remains found in a council car park in
Leicester. REUTERS/Andrew Winning
With a large chin, a prominent slightly arched nose and
delicate lips, the "face" of England's King Richard III was
unveiled today, a day after researchers confirmed his remains
had finally been found after 500 years.
A team of university archaeologists and scientists announced
on Monday that a skeleton discovered last September
underneath a council parking lot in Leicester was indeed that
of Richard, the last English king to die in battle, in 1485.
Devotees of Richard, who have long campaigned to restore his
reputation, proudly revealed a 3D reconstruction of the
long-lost monarch's head on Tuesday, introducing him to
reporters as "His Grace Richard Plantagenet, King of England
and France, Lord of Ireland".
They said the face appeared sympathetic and noble - not that
of a man cast by William Shakespeare as a villainous,
deformed monster who murdered his nephews, the "Princes in
"I hope you can see in this face what I see in this face and
that's a man who is three-dimensional in every sense," said
Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society, who led the
four-year hunt to find the king's remains.
"It doesn't look like the face of a tyrant. If ... you look
into his eyes, it really is like he can start speaking to
you," Langley told reporters.
A 3D computer image of the face was first created based on a
scan taken of Richard's skeleton after it was found in a
shallow grave in the remains of a friary church, now located
under Leicester City Council's social services department car
park in central England. The image was then made into a
The reconstruction is faithful to an anatomical assessment of
the skull, and about 70 percent of the face's surface should
have less than 2 mm of error, according to the professor of
craniofacial identification who created it.
No portraits of Richard were used for the main facial
reconstruction, although the clothing, wig, and some features
such as eyebrows, eye colour and skin colour were based on
paintings of the dead king.
The final outcome does bear a strong resemblance to some
portraits of Richard - but without some of the less
flattering traits that appeared during the reign of Henry
VII, his conqueror at the 1485 Battle of Bosworth Field, and
the Tudor dynasty that followed.
Langley said it was a face without the Tudor caricatures: "No
slanty eyes, no mean mouths, no clawed fingers beneath it."
Wearing a black felt hat, with hair down to his shoulders,
one of which was slightly higher than the other - in keeping
with the discovery his skeleton had a dramatic spinal
curvature - the reconstruction depicted Richard, 32 at his
death, with delicate, almost feminine features.
His body is due to be re-interred at Leicester Cathedral next
year while the bust reconstruction will take pride of place
at a visitors' centre to be opened close to the site where
the body lay in a small, irregular grave for more than five
"It was seeing this face which was actually the most
important moment for me, the most extraordinary moment,"
Langley said, explaining the project had two aims: to find
the remains to ensure a dignified burial and to reveal the
"For me when this was revealed and I was looking at his face
... that was the biggest moment. Suddenly the aim of seeing
the real Richard III, it came true, a miraculous dream really