Roman Bull Replication

Reproducing a complete Roman Bull statue based on the discovery, in Lincoln, of a 1st century marble torso.

  • Original 1st centuary marble Roman bull discovered in Lincoln

    Original 1st centuary marble Roman bull discovered in Lincoln

  • 3D scanning the torso

    3D scanning the torso

  • Sketch designs and verification for the missing elements, Bradley Oliver White

    Sketch designs and verification for the missing elements, Bradley Oliver White

  • Hand modelling the missing elements, Bradley Oliver White

    Hand modelling the missing elements, Bradley Oliver White

  • Head detail

    Head detail

  • Re-scanning the complete bull

    Re-scanning the complete bull

  • Final assembly of the complete Bull, The Collection Museum, Lincoln

    Final assembly of the complete Bull, The Collection Museum, Lincoln

The discovery of a Roman marble bull during archaeological excavations in Lincoln in 2013 led to an opportunity for the Lincoln Conservation team to prove that 3D scanning and 3D printing tools could be used alongside traditional arts and crafts practices.

A very rare find dating from the 1st or early 2nd century AD, the bull could have been part of a larger agriculturally-themed tableaux, and certainly came from a high-status property in Roman Lindum Colonia.

Sadly only its torso survived. “Research suggested that the bull would originally have been a very majestic statement by a wealthy family,” said Michael Poole “but this was difficult for viewers to understand, due to the missing extremities.”

Working alongside The Collection, Lincoln (the city’s archaeological museum, which acquired the statue in 2015) and Optima Design, the team at Lincoln were commissioned to scan and replicate a complete ‘Bull’.

The team processed this in three distinct stages. First the surviving torso was scanned and replicated using the same non-contact techniques as were employed on the Terracotta Warriors. “Everyone was in agreement that it was most appropriate to use a contactless technology on such a rare and valuable find,” explained Michael. The replica torso was then given to artist Bradley Oliver White, who sketched and modelled the missing head and legs in clay using traditional sculptural techniques. White’s new work was then 3D scanned and again printed at Lincoln to produce the final reconstruction, which is now on display alongside the original at The Collection.

Michael Poole, who worked closely on the project, said: “3D scanning and replication technologies are in their infancy compared to artistic traditions and conservation practice. What we have been able to show through our work on the Terracotta Warriors and Lincoln bull though, is that the two disciplines can have a very fruitful working relationship. This can be enormously beneficial to those wanting to commission conservation or restoration works, and by extension beneficial to the heritage visitor.”