“WE don’t normally keep our patients waiting 600 years for a CT scan,” said Nigel Beeton as West Suffolk Hospital helped with a historical project on Wednesday night.
The mummified head of Simon Theobald, also known as Simon of Sudbury – once one of the detested men in the country – was scanned at the Bury St Edmunds hospital as part of a project to recreate his face.
He was Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of the peasants’ revolt in 1381. Blamed for poll tax, it took rebels seven or eight attempts to behead him – those cuts to his skull bone were visible for the first time at Wednesday’s scan.
Simon’s body was buried at Canterbury Cathedral but his head was removed and is thought to have been transported in a barrel of brine, preserving it, as it was brought back to his hometown of Sudbury, where it has been on display in St Gregory’s Church.
Schools’ worker Ian Copeman is behind the project to recreate Simon’s face. “He is a folk demon unfairly blamed for the poll tax.
He got a bad press,” said Ian, who has enlisted the help of world expert Prof Caroline Wilkinson and forensic arts student Adrienne Barker both from Dundee University.
Adrienne will use details only made available through the scan to make a clay,and bronze mould of Simon’s face. Moulds of his head will then be made available both to the church and cathedral as well as Mr Copeman to use as a teaching aid.
“In 30 years of radiography, I can certainly say this is the oldest patient I have come across,” said Mr Beeton, image services manager at the hospital, who together with staff volunteered after hours to be involved in the project.