Simon’s Skull Reconstruction

A project by Dundee Universities Forensic Facial Reconstruction team.
Reported by Ian Copeman
Schools worker.
Future Vision Youth and Children’s Work.

Update September 2011

The unveiling took place at St. Gregory’s Church as planned at 4pm on September 2011. There was a detailed exhibition of how the reconstruction was carried out including some detailed drawings which can be seen in the slide show. For a full account of how this magnificent project was achieved can be found by going to

In March 2011 members of Dundee Universities Forensic Facial Reconstruction team will be visiting Sudbury to scan Simon’s skull with a view for St. Gregory’s to have a solid reconstruction made and, it is understood that it will be given to Canterbury Cathedral where his body was buried.

Update 22nd March 2011

As you may have seen in the press Professor Caroline Wilkinson from Dundee University came down with a Masters student Adrienne Barker and we transported Simon to the West Suffolk Hospital where he underwent the scan.

During the scan it was found that the bones of his inner ears are still intact!
Prof. Wilkinson was impressed by the state of preservation of Simon and indicated that he had not been in any water as the bone and tissue structure would have deteriorated substantially if he had.

She also stated that the jaw belonged to the skull and had not be ‘replaced’.
On examining the skull she noted that some vertebrae are still attached and that it can be seen that a blow partially severed one vertebrae and so multiple blows would have been needed to remove the head. This is consistent with contemporary accounts.

I (Ian Copeman) asked if it would be possible to get a DNA check done to verify the head belongs to the body but she stated that the best bet would have been the teeth and that the rest of the skull would probably not produce anything that could be reliable, so we can never prove or disprove that this skull and the body at Canterbury are connected.

Contemporary accounts talk of a hat being ‘nailed’ to his head, there was no puncture mark to indicate this but the term nailed could cover a variety of attaching techniques and so would not be an indicator either way.

We hope to have the head reconstructed between May and August, which is the duration of the Masters degree project, and we will have the completed head sometime in late September early October. St Gregory’s Church are looking to raise about a £1000 [thousand pounds] to obtain a casting of the head for display in the church. We are waiting on Canterbury Cathedral for the extent of their interest.

I (Ian Copeman) will be funding the project out of my own pocket as Future Vision does not have the funds to complete it now that the costs have risen due to the delay in obtaining permission to move Simon.

Update June 2011

I (Ian Copeman) have just returned from Dundee University speaking with the team reconstructing Simon’s Head.

At this time the computer data from the scans has been cleaned up so that the existing tissue has been removed.
This data has created a ‘clean’ skull devoid of flesh.
This clean skull data has been sent to a specialist firm to create a solid resin skull.
From this resin skull the muscle tissue and facial features will be recreated.
Attached are some computer graphics showing the skull in the scanner and the ‘clean’ skull having had the flesh tissue removed.
They are quite excited about what they have found out about Simon just by looking at the computer image. His back teeth were missing long before he died, whereas the front teeth had been removed post death. They also pointed out a number of facial features that will make Simon ‘distinctive’! More when he is complete but some of what they have found would explain why he needed a number of blows to remove his head, blows which are still visible on the vertebra remaining.

The whole project must be completed by mid August as the Masters examinations are at the beginning of September.

The costs have rocketed and have taken the University by surprise, to have just the skull created is costing £1,240.85.

Which is more than we had anticipated the whole project costing.
On top of this will be the cost of having the final casting of the features. I am awaiting verification of the final figures.

Update July 2011
The unveiling of the reconstructed head of Simon of Sudbury will take place on the 15th September 2011 at 4pm in St. Gregory’s Church.

Outline plans for the presentation are being made.
People that have been invited are Adrienne Barker from Dundee University who will have executed [‘scuse pun] the recreation of Simon’s features as well as The Mayor, Barry Wall and Sudbury History Society, Roger Green, The staff from the West Suffolk Hospital who scanned Simon’s head plus many others who have helped out on the project.
It is hoped to have a small choir from St Gregory’s school singing songs we have taught them on our ‘Lifepath exploration days’ about Simon.
And probably teas and coffee after as people examine the features.

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