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From Macro to Micro: Multi-Scalar Digital Approaches at the Sculptor’s Cave, North-East Scotland

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Abstract

Excavations in the 1920s and 1970s at the Sculptor’s Cave, north-east Scotland, revealed that the site was used for mortuary rituals during the Late Bronze Age (c. 1100–800 BC) and Roman Iron Age (late first–fourth centuries AD), whilst a series of Pictish symbols carved into its entrance walls suggest that the cave’s importance continued into the Early Medieval period. A new programme of analysis has utilised advanced 3D digital documentation and 3D metrology (specifically, 3D laser scanning) to enable this inaccessible site to be appreciated by wider audiences and analysed remotely. Detailed in situ recording of the Pictish symbols was undertaken using macro-level structured light scanning, and the high-fidelity digital models were subsequently blended with terrestrial laser scan data of the cave interior to show the location and detail of the carvings. This work highlights the value of emerging digital approaches in the analysis, presentation and management of the Sculptor’s Cave, from the elucidation of additional carved details and the monitoring of surface degradation, to the dissemination of this difficult-to-access site to the wider public via online platforms.

Keywords

  • Later prehistory
  • Cave
  • Picts
  • Scotland
  • Terrestrial laser scanning
  • Structured light scanning
  • Reflectance transformation imaging

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Historic Environment Scotland for funding the scanning work and our collaborators Visualising Heritage and Fragmented Heritage at the University of Bradford, funded by HEIF (via the University of Bradford) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/L00688X/1), respectively.

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Correspondence to Lindsey Büster .

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Büster, L., Armit, I., Evans, A., Sparrow, T., Kershaw, R., Wilson, A.S. (2019). From Macro to Micro: Multi-Scalar Digital Approaches at the Sculptor’s Cave, North-East Scotland. In: Büster, L., Warmenbol, E., Mlekuž, D. (eds) Between Worlds. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-99022-4_10

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-99022-4_10

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