The face of England’s king Richard III was revealed for the first time in more than 500 years on Tuesday following a reconstruction of his skeleton found underneath a carpark.
A three-dimensional plastic model has been made from the skull of the king, who was killed in 1485 after just two years on the throne but lived on as one of history’s worst villains in the eponymous play by William Shakespeare.
Researchers hope the discovery of his remains under a carpark in the central English city of Leicester, complete with the twisted spine of folklore, will lead to a rehabilitation of his reputation.
And many believe the image of his face, until now only depicted in paintings, will be key to this.
“It’s an interesting face, younger and fuller than we have been used to seeing, less careworn, and with the hint of a smile,” said Phil Stone, chairman of the Richard III Society.
“When I first saw it, I thought there is enough of the portraits about it for it to be king Richard but not enough to suggest they have been copied. I Think people will like it. He’s a man who lived.”
The reconstruction work was led by Caroline Wilkinson, professor of craniofacial identification at the University of Dundee in Scotland, and paid for by the Richard III Society.
A team at the University of Leicester announced on Monday that DNA tests, carbon dating and examination of bones had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the skeleton found underneath a municipal carpark last year was that of Richard.
The discovery ends a 500-year-old mystery about what happened to the king’s body, after it was buried by Franciscan friars in an unmarked grave following his defeat at the hands of the future king Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth.