Orkney WHS digitally recorded

12 August 2010

A team of heritage conservators and digital design experts from Historic Scotland and the Digital Design Studio at the Glasgow School of Art will be digitally recording the Orkney World Heritage Site using laser scanners.

The project, expected to last two weeks, is the second Scottish site the team will scan with 3D laser scanners as part of the Scottish Ten - an ambitious five-year project to use cutting edge technology to create exceptionally accurate digital models of Scotland’s five UNESCO designated World Heritage Sites and five international sites.

Dr Lyn Wilson, Scottish Ten Project Leader, said:

“We are delighted to be working on such an internationally recognisable and emblematic site. Our team will be on site to fully digitally document the monuments that make up the Heart of Neolithic Orkney WHS – down to the millimetre – over a two-week period.

“The 3-D data will then be used to assess the physical condition of the monuments as well as provide the foundation for future conservation, site management and archeological understanding.

“Though we have already scanned New Lanark, the scale and nature of the monuments will be an entirely different challenge. This will be the first site in the Scottish Ten project where we have existing scan data: comparing data acquired at different dates will allow us to measure any changes in condition of the monuments.

“We will be able to share this information with our partners in the management of the World Heritage Site – Orkney Islands Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB. The data can also be used to develop photorealistic 3-D animations to aid in public interpretation and education.”

The Heart of Neolithic Orkney WHS is made up of the chambered tomb of Maeshowe, the Stones of Stenness, the Barnhouse Stone, the Watch Stone, the Ring of Brodgar with its associated funerary monuments and stone settings and the Skara Brae settlement.

The Scottish Ten project was announced in July 2009. The five sites in Scotland are Unesco World Heritage Sites and include The Heart of Neolithic Orkney; The Antonine Wall; the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh; St Kilda and New Lanark. New Lanark has just been finished with 3D images of the laser scan data available.

The project has lead to the creation of the Centre for Digital Design and Visualisation LLP - a new commercial partnership between Historic Scotland and Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio - using state-of-the-art laser scanning technology and 3D visualisation software to digitally record heritage sites around the globe, and enable virtual access.

The results of the scanning will be shared with the California-based CyArk Foundation – with the mission of  "preserving World Heritage Sites through collecting, archiving and providing open access to data created by laser scanning, digital modeling, and other state-of-the-art technologies”.

Earlier this year the Scottish team scanned the first international site – the world famous Presidential Heads at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, USA. The other remaining four overseas sites have still be to selected and will fulfil Scottish Government International objectives in Japan, India and China, with a fifth site to be selected.

You will be able to follow the team’s progress in Orkney as there will be regular Twitter updates @scottishten

Notes for editors

Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is one of the United Kingdom’s (UK) most successful higher education institutions specialising in architecture, design and fine art.  It has an established reputation world wide for high quality education and search that is demonstrated by the outstanding successes of its students and graduates and the professional standing of its staff.  It is home to an international community of 1700 undergraduate and postgraduate students studying in the schools of Architecture, Design and Fine Art, or at the Digital Design Studio. For further information: www.gsa.ac.uk.

CyArk is a non-profit entity whose mission is to digitally preserve cultural heritage sites through collecting, archiving and providing open access to data created by laser scanning, digital modelling, and other state-of-the-art technologies. For more information visit www.archive.cyark.org

For more information on digital documentation visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/laserscanning

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Media Invite 17/08/10

Media will have access to the scanning team and have the opportunity to see the scanners at work at the Ring of Brodgar on Tuesday, August 17, from 11am.

Journalists and photographers are welcome and images will be sent out.

Telephone interviews can also be arranged by contacting Lesley Brown on 07920 768096.

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768100