Medieval and post-medieval graffiti carvings at Carlisle Castle

Medieval and post-medieval graffiti carvings at Carlisle Castle

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.

Laser scan of the oak door

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.


Hadrian’s Wall, Segedunum (Buddle Street) laser scanning

Hadrian’s Wall, Segedunum (Buddle Street) laser scanning

From 7th-8th January, the Geospatial Imaging team at Historic England travelled to Wallsend to help record a section of Hadrian’s Wall newly excavated by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, just off the site of the Roman fort of Segedunum. The aim of the work was to laser scan the exposed stonework (using a Faro Focus and Leica P40 laser scanners) to accurately produce digital models of the wall. We also took photos for use in Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetry, another method of generating 3D models. The data will all be processed and analysed in the coming weeks.

This is a fascinating section of the wall, far thinner here towards the eastern end of it, compared to the rest, and has evidence of rebuilding dating to the Roman period where parts of it have slumped due to the slippery nature of the soil (as we all found out too soon across two very wet days on site!).

Leica P40 scanner (right on yellow tripod) in action on a very wet winter’s day