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Skull found during church building work to be given a face

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THE face of a 15-year-old girl, whose skull was found in the grounds of St Lawrence Church, is to be recreated by a forensic artist.

Human Osteologist Rosalind Le Quesne with a female skull belonging to a 15 year old female that was unearthed during excavation work at St Lawrence's church. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (25122227)

Rosalind Le Quesne, a bio-archaeologist and human osteologist, was involved in a project to add an extension to the building, and has commissioned a London-based artist to recreate the girl’s image.

Ms Le Quesne is now working on the medieval skull at the specially equipped lab at La Hougue Bie which was constructed for analysis of the Le Câtillon II coin hoard.

She is examining, 3D-scanning and measuring the skull – which she has so far determined belonged to a 15-year-old female – so that UK forensic artist Tim Widden can begin his visual reconstruction of the young woman’s face.

Ms Le Quesne said she had decided to explore the possibility of facial reconstruction in this case because it was the ‘best-preserved skull’ she had ever excavated.

Jersey’s acidic soil is not normally ‘very kind’ to human remains, she explained, but the lime mortar used in churches can sometimes mitigate those effects.

‘Skulls from that far back don’t tend to survive very well, but in this young woman’s case, hers is the best-preserved skull I have ever dug up,’ she said.

‘And because it was such a good example, I had this idea of doing a facial reconstruction, and so I contacted some forensic artists online. That is how I found Tim Widden.’

Human Osteologist Rosalind Le Quesne working on a skull belonging to a 15 year old female that was unearthed during excavation work

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Mr Widden is a London-based forensic artist specialising in age-progression imagery and facial reconstructions to assist police and other agencies in cases of missing and unidentified people.

‘I really liked his work – the reconstructions that he produces look almost like photographs,’ Ms Le Quesne added. ‘And so I went on the scrounge, and I asked the people who were involved in the initial construction project if they would be willing to contribute to the cost of commissioning Mr Widden.’

Her crowd-funding attempts were successful, and the £750 fee for the reconstruction work was donated by St Lawrence Church and parish, Gallaher Architects, John Warrener Plumbing, Ross-Gower Associates, Jersey Heritage and the Société Jersiaise.

When the image has been completed, it is likely to be displayed in the church itself.

‘I have offered the image for display at St Lawrence Church because there were also a couple of smaller finds that came from the same excavation, such as some coins and a small cross, and we had talked at the time about displaying those with a small explanation of the work that was undertaken,’ Ms Le Quesne said. ‘And now we have this picture to add as well. Hopefully it might also go on display at the Société office in Pier Road.’

Sam Le

By Sam Le
Journalist

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