Boltby Scar Hillfort: 3D Model

The Landscape Research Centre has had a pioneering role in computer applications in archaeology for more than 25 years. We have been intensely aware of the need to find ways in which we can properly and powerfully articulate the three dimensional nature of the archaeological resource whether as part of the landscape or in excavation for some time. We have experimented with the use of 3D laser scanners over the past few years and found that extraordinary as the technology is, gathering clouds of precisely located 3D points that describe a surface, it is still relatively expensive and the processing of the data requires powerful computers and relatively complex software. New advances in computer software combined with the increased  resolution of  digital photography means that we can now quickly and easily create high quality 3D models of archaeological features from a bunch of ‘free’ photographs without photogrammetric cameras or control points. The image below shows a 3D image of Boltby Scar created from a group of air photographs, a 2D image of a 3d image with elegant lighting which exposes the three dimensional nature even of subtle features. You can download the 3D model and rotate and view it yourself by follow the link below. Please note it is an 18Mb file but worth the wait.

Boltby Scar 3D model

A 3D Model of Boltby Scar created from 24 air photographs using Agisoft Photoscan and edited in Meshlab

this 3D pdf was generated from a 3D object file using Simlab Composer

We are aware that there are many questions about precise precision of 3D models generated from ‘free’ photography. At present our objectives have not been to replace proper measurement and observation  with a quick solution but to enhance our record with something that is far easier to grasp visually; it must be remembered that when we excavate we destroy what we observe.

You can see the Leica scan of the barrow being excavated at Boltby Scar in 2011 and some other examples by going to:

To read a blow-by-blow blog in the 2011 excavations in progress and reports from York University undergraduates who spent three weeks at the site as part of their field training please view the Boltby Blog @

You can download the excavation interim report for 2011 by following the link below:

This entry was posted in Archaeology, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s