3D scanning and 3D printing technology have been instrumental in the resurrection of a lost Tudor sculpture.
Experts at the University of Leicester have been working to recreate two Tudor-era monuments using both academic humanities research and scientific technology. The project was overseen by the Representing Re-Formation project team, funded by a major grant from the Science and Heritage Programme (AHRC and EPSRC). The scheme saw researchers from the University of Leicester's Space Research Centre, the Department of the History of Art and Film, School of Museum Studies and Department of Computer Sciences. They worked alongside their colleagues at the University of Oxford and Yale University as well as colleagues in English Heritage and the Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service.
The experts studied two tomb monuments that were originally intended to be a part of Thetford Priory in Norfolk in an exhibition at the Ancient House Museum, Thetford, from September 7th to March 29th 2014.
The ornate tombs were commissioned by Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. He planned for one of the tombs to be his own final resting place, while the second was intended for Henry VIII's illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond.
When the priory was dissolved in 1540, the tombs had not yet been completed, as a result, some parts of the tombs were salvaged and finished in a different style in a different material at St Michael's Church in Framlingham, Suffolk.
Much of the unfinished monuments remained abandoned among the priory ruins and were unearthed by excavators centuries later. These parts were scattered among various museums and archives, but now researchers have succeeded in reuniting all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle with the help of drawings in 16th-century manuscripts, 3D laser scanning and 3D printing to recreate the monuments as they had originally been intended by Howard.
Dr Phillip Lindley, of the University of Leicester's Department of the History of Art and Film, stated: "Using 3D laser scanning and 3D prints, we have - virtually - dismantled the monuments at Framlingham and recombined them with the parts left at Thetford in 1540, to try to reconstruct the monuments as they were first intended, in a mixture of the virtual and the real.
"We are delighted to work with the curator of the Ancient House Museum, Oliver Bone, and his staff. The museum is a few hundred yards from the priory site where the tomb-monuments were first carved nearly five hundred years ago.
"The Ancient House is itself a Tudor building and it is a surprising thought that the original sculptors probably walked past the very building in which we are now exhibiting their work."