New Imaging Blog Space

In tandem with this Blog site we have another Blog site which is devoted to Landscape Research through imaging particularly 3D imaging.

You can visit the LRC Imaging Blog by following the link below where you can see examples of 3D imaging projects including experimental work using drones, the recording of excavations and of individual objects.

To see the full range of 3D imaging experiments in progress please visit our Sketchfab space

we hope you enjoy what you see

Dominic Powlesland



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The Archaeologist’s Shoes



The Landscape Research Centre has been actively involved in rescue archaeology at Cook’s Quarry, West Heslerton, North Yorkshire in the Vale of Pickering since a visit by the director in 1977. The original excavations at Cook’s Quarry were published in the Journal of the Royal Archaeological Institute in 1986 (Powlesland, D.J., Haughton, C.A. and Hanson, J.H. 1986 ‘Excavations at Heslerton, North Yorkshire 1978-82’, Archaeol. J. 143, 53-173). Since then with the exception of a gap in excavation during the late 1980s and early 1990s, when parts of the quarry were extended without any archaeological observation, excavations have continued to examine and record areas prior to sand extraction on an almost biannual basis.

The cumulative results of these excavations have confirmed the importance of the Cook’s Quarry site with reference to the Prehistory of the North of England including the excavation of possible major Late Mesolithic or Neolithic but as yet undated post settings (?5000-4000 BC), Beaker period (2500-1800 BC) domestic settlement areas, including the examination of what appears to have been a Beaker kiln, Late Bronze age settlement and cemetery (1100-800 BC).  A relict stream channel which formerly ran across the site seems to have served as the focus for activity, perhaps followed as a route through the landscape from as early as 10,000 BC, with concentrations of activity such as flint working on the banks of the stream throughout the prehistoric period.

Three seasons of fieldwork remain, with stripping part of the area formerly used as the excavation camp-site recently completed. During the 1970s, 80s and 90s the excavation camp-site housed teams of up to 120 volunteers resident for many weeks. The excavation had a tremendous impact on the village in what was then a fairly isolated place in Britain. Each year a deep rubbish pit was cut into which the chemical toilets used in those days were emptied, at the end of the season there was always material left by departing team members, most of this was disposed off-site in a skip but some made its way into the cess pit.

You can imagine our excitement this week when, during the cleaning of the new area we discovered a remarkably well preserved, but somewhat worn pair of red Dr Martens, a long time preferred shoe for the itinerant archaeologist, shoes that were both comfortable and more importantly made little impression on the fragile sandy deposits on site. The section through the pit can be seen in the image above. Alternatively look at the 3Di model published on our Sketchfab site to see the Shoes and section in 3D. We hope that Dr Martens will be able to give us a precise date for these magnificent artifacts.

More to follow…..


The section with the shoes has been re-photographed, although still in difficult bright conditions, and remodelled at higher resolution. Follow the link below






Posted in 3Di, 3Di 3D Imaging, Archaeological Excavation, Archaeology, vale of pickering | Leave a comment

Digital Atlas Temporary Address

The LRC Digital Atlas has been functioning almost flawlessly for a number of years, unfortunately recent changes (upgrades ) of the windows server, where it is hosted, seem to have caused data serving problems which have stopped it from functioning all-together.

Whilst the problem at the host end is being resolved a new version has been installed on the LRC archive server, which although very slow does work as intended with the exception of one or two image files.

very slow should perhaps be amended to exceptionally slow, a consequence of the poor connection between the LRC server and the internet resulting from our relatively remote location. The check box which loads the geophysical survey results (hundreds of megabytes of data) is particularly slow, when clicked it may take 10 minutes before the time bar shows that the data has loaded.

this can be reached by following the link below

Posted in air photography, Archaeology, crop mark, Digital Atlas, Digital Heritage, Geophysics, Landscape, vale of pickering | Tagged | Leave a comment

Archaeology and contemporary art: A Hidden Landscape, by Paul Musgrove

New Exhibition at Ryedale Folk Museum

 A Hidden Landscape, by Paul Musgrove (7th June – 20th July 2014)

Paul Musgrove with glass sculptures in the foreground and woodblock prints behind

Paul Musgrove with glass sculptures in the foreground and woodblock prints behind


The Ryedale Folk Museum, situated just outside Kirkbymoorside, on the edge of the North York Moors is a little gem of a museum which combines archaeological, architectural and craft collections with one of the most comprehensive collections of treen and other post-medieval domestic artifacts to be found in any rural museum in Britain. It also has a small but stunning single room art gallery, established in 2011 for a small temporary exhibition of works by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Terry Frost.

The gallery provides a splendid setting for the latest exhibition by printmaker and glassworker Paul Musgrove. More than 30 works are in the exhibition which combines a number of unique glass ‘standing stones’ and a variety of Japanese wood-block prints and etchings many of which have been inspired by the results of air-photographic and geophysical surveys and excavations undertaken over more than 3 decades by the Landscape Research Centre in and around the Vale of Pickering. During the first few years of the rescue excavations begun at Cook’s Quarry, West Heslerton in 1978 Paul was an active member of the excavation team and site photographer.

The gallery is little publicised, but must be one of the best exhibition spaces to be found in the region. In addition to examples of work derived from the major archaeological surveys a lot of new work influenced by the buried archaeological landscape of the Vale is joined by others influenced by visits to Orkney and other part of Scotland, where Paul is based.

Having visited a number of Paul Musgrove’s exhibitions over the last few years this is exceptional both in terms of the work presented and the gallery space. The work on display is exciting and affordable whether you are interested in his Archaeoprint series or by the fabulous glass table-top sculptures. A very fine example of the influence of archaeology on contemporary art.


Posted in Archaeology, art, crop mark, Landscape, vale of pickering | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

3Di or 3D Imaging from Free Range Photography


3Di Model of the eroded Anglo-Saxon Angel Frieze now protected within the church in Hovingham, North Yorkshire, (this version clipped on the right hand side). Generated using Agisoft Photoscan Pro from 20Mp images gathered using a Sony RX100 pocket camera

Over the past 4 years the LRC has undertaken a series of experiments designed to evaluate the potential for digital photogrammetery to enhance the  archaeological record from archaeological excavations. More recently a spell as Field Archaeologist in Residence in the McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research in the University of Cambridge enabled me to devote some time to a more in depth assessment of the potential of the method and to work with a number of others to showcase what I consider to be one of the most significant breakthroughs in computer applications for the field archaeologist.

The combination of a relatively high quality and high resolution digital camera with good lenses, a powerful desktop computer equipped with a gaming graphics card and software operating freely using cloud computing facilities or commercial software running on the local computer can generate very high resolution 3D Images or 3Di Models of excavated trenches and features with millimetre accuracy from a small number of carefully collected digital photographs. The 3D models resulting from this process enhance the record by revealing detail that cannot conventionally be recorded on paper, particularly relating to soil textures which can be enhanced by the use of carefully placed virtual lighting. In addition they can be manipulated on a web-page  or published within 3D PDF files in a format that supports measurement and model sharing in a way that is not otherwise possible. The product of the research in Cambridge will be more fully discussed in a Guide to 3D imaging for Archaeological Excavations due to be completed in June of this year.

In the meantime it has become very clear that the approach which employs sophisticated computing algorithms including Structure from Motion  offers tremendous potential in other fields in the Arts and Humanities beyond the relatively limited field of archaeological excavation recording. The potential to create highly accurate, shareable and measurable models for instance of Anglo-Saxon Carved Sculptural Stone or Inscriptions that can be shared between academics working in diverse locations around the world at the same time as making models that can be viewed online available to school-children or the retired has the potential to transform the  work of Historians, Linguists, Art Historians and others in the study and analysis of material much of which is inaccessible either because of its physical location in a building or simply because it is located in another country. Click on either of the two models pictured here to view the 3D models. These Models are large and thus may take a while to download and display if your connection is poor or computer is low powered. To be able to rotate the models correctly Google Chrome has proven to be the most consistent browser

Models generated of a recently discovered Runic Inscription were circulated amongst the community of runologists for comment over a few weeks rather than wait for years until each had had the opportunity to see the inscription in situ.

The experiments have been looking both at the process as well as the results this has included the comparison of both photographic equipment and software. To get an idea of the quality of the results you can view the experimental results on our Sketchfab site, ( which employs the Sketchfab viewer to display 3D models on a web-page or download some of the samples in PDF files, from the Cambridge University Digital Repository (D-Space) which provides a permanent digital archiving facility within the university. If you open a PDF from the D-Space it may open as a blank PDF in your browser with just the model title in the lower right corner; if this is the case download and open the file from your downloads directory using the Adobe PDF Viewer.

3D Model created using Agisoft Photoscan Pro from Digital Images gathered using a 16Mp Olympus OM-D EM-5

3D Model created using Agisoft Photoscan Pro from Digital Images gathered using a 16Mp Olympus OM-D EM-5

The 3D Models archived at Cambridge have all been generated using Agisoft Photoscan Professional ( whilst those on the Sketchfab  include others generated using free online processing services available through the ARC 3D WebService ( or Autodesk 123D Catch (

Posted in 3Di 3D Imaging, Archaeology, art, Digital Heritage, Photogrammetery | Tagged , , | Leave a comment
Boltby Scar Section through Bronze Age Round Barrow

Boltby Scar Section through Bronze Age Round Barrow


The Landscape Research Centre has been at the forefront of research into digital recording techniques for the field archaeologist since it adopted the use of handheld computers for recording in the field in the mid 1980s.

A series of small excavations on the severely damaged remains of a Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age Hillfort at Boltby Scar on the North York Moors have been the setting for a series of 3D imaging experiments employing, with the assistance of Leica UK 3D laser scanners and 3D Imaging from photography. The link below gives an idea of the level of detail returned in a photographic 3D model of a section through a robbed Bronze Age barrow, note the turf deposits showing towards the two ends of the section where the mound had suffered least disturbance. The extraordinary levels of detail documented using this method has underpinned a significant re-interpretation of the evidence documented during the excavation which would not have been possible from the examination of the 2D static images alone.

Click here to see the Boltby Scar Barrow Section.

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Dry hot spell following horrendous long wet winter exposes hidden archaeology and other things lurking in the fields.


Climate change, increasingly industrialised agriculture and changes in the crops being grown are influencing our knowledge of the past. The relatively extreme weather patterns that we are experiencing in Britain influence the way that arable crops grow revealing archaeological features buried and forgotten often for thousands of years. These crop marks, a function of contrasts between the undisturbed subsoil and cut features such as ditches and pits or structural foundations result from differential growth patterns which have influenced the development of the root system and thus the speed at which crops ripen or suffer from stress in dry spells like we are having at present.

Air photography  over the last century has been the biggest single contributor to our knowledge of the scale of past settlement in Britain. It has become blatantly obvious during the last twenty years that new and previously unknown features have been appearing even in very extensively studied landscapes and that their appearance owes much to the increase depth of ploughing that has accompanied the introduction of ever bigger farm machinery. Deeper ploughing cuts away and disturbs buried archaeological deposits such as the floor layers of prehistoric houses, mixing the material in the plough soil and leaving only truncated features beneath. Pits, ditches, wall footings or post-holes that cut deeper than the depth of the plough will ultimately be all that survives this modern hyper mechanised agricultural revolution and will, if we are not careful, be all that is left to help us understand human interaction with the British landscape over the last 12,000 years. A casual look at the Yorkshire Wolds in winter, when large areas of ploughed fields can be seen, indicates the levels of plough damage that have changed the thin plough-soil to a material mostly made of rock.  The Wolds are becoming whiter every year as more chalk is broken up and added to the plough-soil, the chalk of the Wolds has not been so exposed since the last glaciers receeded.

The crops are late and the weeds confused but as the weather has settled down, leaving many in a state of disbelief, the crops have started to turn, producing crop marks that were last seen emerging at the beginning of May last year, before the deluge began. Field archaeologists are as tied to the weather as farmers, even more so if they are also engaged in aerial archaeology, if this present dry hot spell continues we would expect to see crop marks all over Britain and new discoveries made every flight; filling in gaps in the human landscape that could only be otherwise approached with a vast investment in ground based geophysical surveys and on the ground investigation.  The combination of factors of climate, crop, soils, local and short term weather creates conditions that are effectively unique every day, conditions that may expose vast areas of hidden archaeology even if most often we are unable to securely date and precisely interpret what we see.

Seen from the air the landscape wears the effects of human intervention:


The pattern derived from the resurgence in the use of garden allotments


Enclosures and track-ways from a probable Iron Age or Roman settlement cut through by a now abandoned railway line and trapped between a modern housing estate and a golf course. 


What appears to be an Iron Age farmstead with a single roundhouse in a rectangular enclosure in an environment with poor drainage as demonstrated by the network of field-drains which cut through both the enclosure and what appears to be a track-way and other less clear features in the left hand part of the frame.


Some people, I understand, believe that crop circles are the product of Aliens, if this is the case one wonders what sort of ambitions this particular crew had when they created these marks in a field near Poppleton just outside York. I suppose this provides some context for my four year old who refers to Crop-marks as Crock Marks..or maybe he is saying something else.

Posted in air photography, Archaeology, crop mark, crop-circle | 2 Comments