The Facial Reconstruction of Simon Sudbury

The Skull Assessment

The assessment of sex, age and ancestry was carried out with reference to the book 'Forensic Facial Reconstruction' by Caroline Wilkinson, who discusses the determination of each classification in detail. 

Sex Determination

All the above traits are commonly found on male skulls.  A male skull is noticably larger and more robust than a female skull, which will tend to be small and more delicate looking.  Muscle attachments will appear more defined on male skulls than female, hence male skulls present with gonial flaring and larger mastoids.  The mandible on a male skull is found to be quite robust and square, with a gonial angle below 125 degrees.

Ancestry Determination

There are 4 racial origin groups that are used when determining the ancestry of a skull.  These are:
  • Caucasoid - this group includes Europeans, Asians from the Indian sub-continent, North and East Africans, Arabs and Mediterraneans.
  • Negroid - West and South Africans.
  • Mongoloid - this group includes Asiatics, Inuits and Native Americans.
  • Australoid- including Australian Aborigines and Pacific Islanders.
The traits labelled in the animation above mainly place the skull in the Caucasoid ancestry group.  Other traits labelled above, such as the wide inter-orbital distance, wide nasal aperture and the flat nasal spine are a few traits found within the Negroid ancestry group.

Age Determination

Age determination is usually carried out by assessing the condition of the teeth.  This was not possible with Simon's skull as they were all missing.  However, not all the teeth were missing post-mortem.  Evidence of significant alveolar resorption (wasting away of the bony tooth socket) on the mandible suggests the loss of teeth (the molars and possibly pre-molars) before death, which can be classed as age-related change suggesting an adult middle-aged and above.  We already know that Simon was in his mid-sixties.


Wilkinson, CM.  (2004) Forensic Facial Reconstruction.  Cambridge University Press.

Images by Adrienne Barker.