Dundee academics reconstruct Viking woman's face

Facial reconstruction of Viking skull The Viking skeleton's skull was laser-scanned to create a 3D digital model

Academics at Dundee University have helped recreate the face of a Viking woman whose skeleton was unearthed in York more than 30 years ago.

The facial reconstruction was achieved by laser-scanning her skull to create a 3D digital model.

Eyes were then digitally created, along with hair and a bonnet, to complete the look.

The project was part of a £150,000 investment at York's Jorvik Viking Centre.

The Dundee academics were brought in by the centre's owners, the York Archaeological Trust, as part of a project to bring York's Vikings to life.

The female skeleton used was one of four excavated at Coppergate in York.

The reconstruction process was carried out using specialist computer equipment which allowed the user to "feel" what they were modelling on screen. The anatomy of the face was modelled in "virtual clay" from the deep muscles to the surface.

Dundee University researcher Janice Aitken took the digital reconstruction and added the finishing touches.

'Research capabilities'

She explained: "I use the same sort of software as is used to create 3D animations in the film industry. I digitally created realistic eyes, hair and bonnet and added lighting to create a natural look.

"It is very satisfying knowing that the work we create at Dundee University will be seen by thousands of visitors to Jorvik and being part of a process which can so vividly help people to identify with their ancestors."

The reconstruction now features in York Archaeological Trust's new Investigate Coppergate exhibition, which examines the Vikings' diet and investigates the diseases from which the Vikings suffered.

The exhibition also looks at the final battles of the Viking age in York that heralded the end of the Viking era and the coming of the Normans.

It features skeletal remains showing battle wounds and a full skeleton with evidence of severe trauma, alongside discussion about how they died.

Sarah Maltby, York Archaeological Trust director of attractions, said: "Archaeological research capabilities have moved on considerably since the original Coppergate excavations which took place over 30 years ago.

"The new exhibition areas mark a shift in how archaeological finds are analysed and the techniques available to researchers."

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