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Yesterday the University of Leicester announced that the bones found under a council car park in Leicester are indeed the remains of the last Plantagenet king, King Richard III, who died in 1485.
A team from the radiology department, at Leicester Royal Infirmary, scanned the bones using post mortem CT scanning protocols, similar to a normal clinical scan, to produce detailed images of the bones.
Dr Shona Campbell, consultant radiologist and divisional director for clinical support at Leicester’s Hospitals said: “We have had a research interest in post mortem CT scanning for many years now, involving close collaboration with Professor Guy Rutty and the Forensic Pathology department and Professor Bruno Morgan from imaging.
“This was the oldest of the human remains we have scanned, and opens up a new and interesting area of research with the University’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History.”
The scans of King Richard III’s skeleton showed numerous injuries and also a curvature of the spine.
Dr Campbell added: “We were delighted to be asked to help in this exciting investigation. Last year Leicester Royal Infirmary celebrated 100 years of being “Royal” and it was wonderful to have Royalty in our imaging department in such an unusual way!”
The bones were initially laid out on the scanner as close as possible to the anatomical position in which they were found. After the initial analysis of the images, a further scan of the bones was taken, using a bespoke polystyrene template to better position the bones, in order to reconstruct the images to make a ‘virtual’ three dimensional model.
Dr Jo Appleby, osteoarchaeologist at the University of Leicester, said: “The CT scans of the bones, carried out at Leicester Royal Infirmary by the Radiology Imaging Unit have been a crucial part of the investigations.
“The three-dimensional images of the skeleton that have been produced have played a central role in our interpretation of the injuries. In addition, the CT scans mean that we will have a full record of the skeleton even after the bones are reburied.
“It has been a privilege to work with the staff at the hospital during the course of the project.”
The CT scan provides a permanent three dimensional record of the bones which cannot be obtained by other means. This enables images and models to be reproduced, minimising any potential damage that could be caused by repeated handling of the bones. The image data also provides a three dimensional record of the skeleton that will remain for further analysis and comparisons after the bones are interred.
You can watch a video called 'Identifying the remains' featuring the CT scanning on University of Leicester's website.
>> Identifying the remains