It is not at all unusual for the instruments designed and build by the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre (SRC) to look back in time; the immense scale of the Universe and the finite speed of light ensure that this is the case. In Representing Re-Formation, however, the objects of interest are not distant galaxies, but the ornate, carved renaissance tombs of the Howard Dukes of Norfolk. Their era is the nearby mid-sixteenth century, rather than the unimaginable thirteen billion years back to the Big Bang.
The SRC, part of the Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been housed since 1998 in the purpose-built Michael Atiyah Building. Its programme includes significant hardware involvements in the James Webb Space Telescope – the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope – and missions to the planets Mercury, Mars and Jupiter. The SRC has also built a reputation, within the University of Leicester and well beyond, for spinning-off its sensor technologies not only into industrial applications but also into inter-disciplinary research collaborations, usually in the life sciences and medicine, but now, through the Science and Heritage initiative of AHRC and EPSRC, reaching into the Arts and Humanities.
The SRC brings to the project the computer infrastructure required to manage the 3D scanning and virtual disassembly/reassembly of two of the Howard Tombs at Framlingham in Suffolk, in order to virtually reconstruct their original state, as well as the laboratory environment needed to store and study the physical fragments unearthed at Thetford in the nineteen-thirties. Some of these fragments seem to have belonged to the Framlingham monuments in their first state, when they were originally planned to stand in Thetford Priory. other excavated fragments were part of earlier Ducal monuments, as yet unpublished and unstudied. X-ray fluorescence and optical reflectance spectroscopy are available to characterise the actual materials of the Tombs.
The SRC project team consists of Professor George Fraser (Co-Investigator and Director of the Space Research Centre), Ms. Nishad Karim (PhD student) and Piyal Samara-Ratna (Mechanical Engineer).