Experts see Richard III's battle injuries as infirmary remains help create new skeleton

By Ben Miller | 29 July 2014

Experts behind a new version of Richard III's skeleton say the king's battle wounds from Bosworth were clear

A photo of a laser print of a skeleton of a man against a black background
Richard III's printed skeleton© Andrew Weekes Photography
Despoiled and repeatedly scarred from the Battle of Bosworth, the wounds inflicted on Richard III’s body became clear when a replica of the king’s Skeleton – made through 3-D printing, taken from some of his remains held by Leicester Royal Infirmary – was created by experts for the new King Richard III visitor centre in Leicester.

Laser sintering, in which a high-power laser fused small particles of plastic into a three-dimensional mass representation of the 15th century ruler, allowed a team from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, at Loughborough University, to vividly recreate the skeleton.

“It was quite clear to see a number of the significant injuries that he had sustained in battle,” says Professor Russell Harris, the head of the University’s Additive Manufacturing Research Group.

“Generating the first 3D computer models was a very exciting moment. And later seeing the skull of Richard III emerge from the powder of the laser sintering machine in physical form was incredible.

“Our 3D printing and additive manufacturing activities span a great number of disciplines but this was an exceptionally rewarding case to be involved in.”

Harris and his colleagues have collaborated with their peers at the nearby University of Leicester, which played a key role in finding Richard’s body under the city’s Grey Friars car park and identifying the remains as those of the king.

“Working with Leicester on this incredible discovery has been a privilege,” he says.

“It is great that two neighbouring universities have been able to share expertise to create a lasting legacy to Richard III. At last the greater story of how the King met his death can be told.”

Opened last week in the old Leicester Grammar School building at St Martin’s Place, the new visitor centre hosts two floors of exhibition space and a covered area allowing visitors access to the original grave site in which Richard's remains were discovered in August 2012.

It follows the return of a bronze statue to Cathedral Gardens, originally donated to the city by the Richard III Society in 1980 and newly armed with a full-length bronze sword. The figure has been cleaned, restored and polished by conservators.

On the other side of the gardens, a new set of steel plate silhouettes, Towards Stillness, provide views of the gardens through their slits.

"James Butler's iconic statue, relocated in one corner of the gardens, will be linked to the other new installation, Towards Stillness, in the opposite corner, by a new sweeping pathway, St Martins Walk,” said Pete Hobson, the acting Canon Missioner at the Cathedral.

"The two works of modern art taken together will frame this new space - itself a gift to the city - which will provide a fitting setting for our cathedral for many years to come."

The £2.5 million Cathedral Quarter regeneration project has been funded by the City Council, the Diocese of Leicester and private donations.

The three sections of the Richard III Visitor Centre

Dynasty: The much-debated story of the king’s life and times in a medieval England racked by decades of fighting in the Wars Of The Roses, detailing Richard’s rise to power as the last king from the great house of Plantagenet

Death: The key players in the Battle of Bosworth and how betrayal led to the king being cut down in the thick of battle whilst defending his crown, allowing Henry VII to seize the crown and usher in the Tudor dynasty

Discovery: The archaeology, science and analysis that led to the rediscovery and identification of the long-lost remains of the king after excavating a grave beneath a car park which was the former site of the medieval friary of the Grey Friars


What do you think? Leave a comment below.

More from Culture24's coverage of Richard III:

Archaeologists send head of Richard III to Northampton Museum

In Pictures: The archaeology and science which identified King Richard III in Leicester

Leicester Cathedral reveals "distinctive" Richard III tomb "imbued with spirituality"
Latest comment: >Make a comment
The article mentions with great aplomb that they discovered his battle injuries - and then is remarkably coy about the findings. So WHY mention it in the first place?
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