Facial Reconstruction

A facial reconstruction of a woman with leprosy from York

Forensic artist Hew Morrison has reconstructed the contours of the face of a woman with leprosy from medieval York to give an idea of how she may have looked.

She was over 46 years old at the time of her death and suffered from advanced lepromatous leprosy. The cause of her death is unclear, but most individuals who contracted leprosy died
because of related infections, rather than as a result of leprosy itself.

Leprosy is caused by the Mycobacterium leprae bacteria. Today it can be treated with antibiotics, but in the medieval period there was no such treatment.

For this facial reconstruction, we have consulted with specialists in the field to understand which signs of leprosy would have been apparent as the individual’s disease progressed.

We would like to acknowledge the contribution of the following people in assisting us to create our reconstruction:

Hew Morrison

Dr. Ruth Butlin (The Leprosy Mission, retired)

Dr. David Scollard (Director of the National Hansen’s Disease Program (USA), retired)

Prof. Charlotte Roberts (University of Durham)