From Mon 22nd – Weds 24th Feb, Historic England’s Remote Sensing team congregated on the brewing market town of Masham for its annual team meeting. Two field trips were organised, firstly to Breary Banks, a landscape full of history, originally being the site of a navvy camp (the earthworks are still visible in the top image). It became the training camp of the Leeds pals in WWI, and practice trenches are still visible. During the later stages of the war, it became a POW camp for German officers, then finally reverted back to a navvy camp to complete the construction of local reservoirs. Part of the site is currently being excavated (University of York 2016).
This was followed by the Druid’s Temple folly – a fantastical representation of a prehistoric stone circle, commissioned by the owner of Swinton Hall in the early 19th century when a fascination with Druidism was all the rage.
I took the sunny (albeit very cold) weather to my advantage to experimentally capture 4k video footage of the second site using a Sony Alpha 7R II, combined with a Manfrotto fig-rig handheld stabiliser, or “steering wheel” as several members of the team remarked!
From 15th-17th February 2016, I surveyed and recorded historic graffiti and carvings across the site of Carlisle Castle using the Leica P40 Scanstation, photography and video recording (Canon 5D Mk ii) for SfM photogrammetry. Most of the carvings found are located inside the keep, and I do recommend a visit – keep your eyes peeled and you realise there is graffiti all over the castle, as the red sandstone is a very soft material (though you must certainly refrain from adding your own..!).
Most of the carvings are of medieval and post-medieval date, many of which have never been systematically recorded before. Quite a few of the medieval carvings allude to allegiances with powerful families and rulers. Coat of arms and heraldic symbols are very common, especially in the so-called prison room on the keep’s second floor. The “prisoners’ carvings”, as they are commonly called, depict crests connected to Richard III, who for a time was Warden of the March, including his personal symbol, the white boar, the white Yorkshire rose, as well as symbols connected to the influential Dacres (scallops) anad Percys (fetterlocks), who were his allies.
The original medieval oak door to the “prison” room also has carvings, but has never been fully analysed, so I took this opportunity to laser scan and photograph it for the production of 3D models.
Some graffiti dates to the 19th century and were created by soldiers. One piece on the keep’s second floor clearly states the graffiti artist belonged to the 55th Westmorland Regiment, which amalgamated with the 34th Cumberland Regiment to become the Border Regiment in 1881.
Lastly, a fascinating example of historical recyling can be seen inside D’Ireby’s Tower, where a Roman altar stone had been reused in the medieval period as a door lintel! I took photographs of the altar to be processed into a photogrammetric model.
Once this data is all processed, I hope to analyse the detail and quality of the 3D models generated, to see which method and settings are most suitable for future recording of similar historical carvings. It was great to see how intrigued visitors were in the work. I hope this will provide a digital means for people to view these carvings that can be difficult to access physically.
Last December, I was tasked by the curatorial team at English Heritage to study a badly eroded panel on the walls of the outer gatehouse (also known as D’Ireby’s Tower) at Carlisle Castle.
The 13th century tower forms the core of the present tower dating to 1378-83, by John Lewyn, which has been altered and restored in the 19th and 20th centuries. On the front of the tower is the barbican, where a blank stone panel is situated below crenelations added in 1819. The panel is heavily weathered, however, it has been suggested by various authors and illustrators that it once depicted a coat of arms, potentially of Richard III, who was Warden of the West March prior to becoming king (Summerton 2008), or the family crest of the Dacres, a dominant family of the area in the 16th century (Wills 2015).
With the help of Geospatial Imaging officer David Andrews, we laser scanned the panel, and I’m currently comparing the results of this with the photogrammetry I have been processing from photos taken on 15th February on a scaffold on site. I’m aiming to produce a research report with the complete results of this analysis by the end of my placement.
Summerson, H. 2008. English Heritage Guidebook:Carlisle Castle, English Heritage, London
Wills, H. G. 2015. The Best Kept Secrets of the Western Marches, Arthur H. Stockwell, Devon
I was lucky enough to travel down to Cambridgeshire and see the ongoing excavation work at Must Farm. This amazingly preserved Bronze Age settlement site has been in the press a lot recently, not in the least because of the sheer amount of prehistoric timberwork the has survived all these years. Two collapsed roundhouses are clearly visible from their posts in situ – not just the post holes!
The different artefacts being discovered are fascinating. I saw the oldest wheel yet found in Britain, complete with axle, and even a bowl containing food with a wooden spoon inside, abandoned mid-meal by the occupant who fled from the settlement when it was consumed by a sudden fire. This is one of the coincidental conditions that resulted in such great preservation.
I recommend checking out the project’s Twitter page, as it’s updated very frequently, and their Sketchfab account to view the 3D models produced by Robert Barratt from SfM photogrammetry being conducted on site. Link here: https://sketchfab.com/robbarratt/folders/must-farm
Lastly, here’s a roundhouse cake I baked for a friend’s birthday last weekend, inspired by the site!
An exciting programme of new archaeological investigations into the less well understood southern area of the Stonehenge landscape has been taking place over this winter. As I’m particularly fascinated by prehistoric archaeology, it was a brilliant opportunity for me to travel down to Wiltshire with Geospatial Imaging officer David Andrews to laser scan some of the excavated trenches (and to now proudly state I have worked on the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, on a wild and windy day!).
The research is still ongoing after all the digging is over, and there’s much survey data to be processed, so it’ll be great to find out what has been discovered after the post-excavation analyses have been completed, around June. Follow Historic England’s website, Twitter and Facebook page for future updates!