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Specialist scan for Simon's skull

Film/ photo/ interview opportunity: 6.30pm on Wednesday 16 March at West Suffolk Hospital. Staff carry out a CT scan of Simon of Sudbury’s mummified head.

Please contact Liz Hearnshaw on 01284 760025 if you would like to attend. Space is limited and places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. 

West Suffolk Hospital staff will carry out a specialist scan on a rather unusual patient next week as part of an exciting project to reconstruct the face of a key historic figure murdered 600 years ago.

Simon of Sudbury’s mummified head will be carefully transported to Bury St Edmunds from its home at St Gregory’s Church in Sudbury on Wednesday (16 March). Several CT scans will be carried out so that experts at Dundee University can complete a facial reconstruction which will reveal exactly what the government minister looked like. 

Simon was the Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of the Peasant’s Revolt in 1381. Held responsible by many for unfair taxes, he was attacked by rebels at the Tower of London and dragged to Tower Hill, where he was beheaded.

His body was buried in Canterbury Cathedral, but his head was removed from Tower Bridge and returned to his hometown. It is thought it was transported back to Suffolk in a barrel of brine, which has in turn helped preserve it over the last 600 years. 

Rev Jenny Seggar, assistant curate at St Gregory’s Church, said: “Simon is thought to be one of the best preserved mummified heads in the country, so his skull is a quite important historical artefact.

“We are really quite excited about the project, which is a fantastic opportunity to find out what he looked like. Although it is difficult to tell from a skull, we have all stared into his face so often that I think we have a reasonably good idea of what to expect.”  

Following the CT scan, an MSc forensic art student at the university will reconstruct Simon’s face using clay. The finished head will be unveiled later in the year.

Nigel Beeton, imaging services manager at the hospital, said: “We are really pleased to be able to help with this fascinating project to reconstruct the face of this important historical figure. Our staff are really enthusiastic about working with such an unusual and interesting artefact and are looking forward to seeing the final results once the reconstruction work has been completed.”

Last updated: 16 May 2011 13:02:39.863

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