Three dimensional modeling of Scottish Early Medieval Sculpted Stones: PhD Thesis, University of Glasgow (2003)

Stuart Jeffrey, 2004

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Dept. of Archaeology
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University of York
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Stuart Jeffrey (2004) Three dimensional modeling of Scottish Early Medieval Sculpted Stones: PhD Thesis, University of Glasgow (2003) [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]


In the past all records of Scottish Early Medieval sculpted stones have been presented to a mass audience via text, drawings and photographs. A range of technologies have now become available that allow digital three dimensional records of archaeological material to be generated which capture the size, shape and texture of the target object. From these records digital three dimensional models can be created. The development of this new type of record offers many advantages to both the archaeological community and to wider audiences. This study evaluates the available technologies and considers how to best utilise the new opportunities for interactive exploration, reconstruction and recontextualisation of Early Medieval sculpted stones.

It is a century since the last comprehensive corpus of all Early Medieval sculpted stone in Scotland was written. In this thesis three dimensional recording and modelling techniques are investigated in the context of a proposed new corpus that is specifically designed to embrace information and communication technology. A new corpus would comprise an on-line multi-media database, one component of which would be three dimensional models of the most significant sculpted stones. These new technological approaches are examined in the context of existing recording techniques as well as being examined with specific reference to the practical difficulties likely to arise given the varied nature of the source material in terms of size, location and access.

The potential audiences for three dimensional models of Early Medieval sculpted stones, the modes of delivery of those models and the potential impact that those models might have on the perceptions of the material being modelled are all investigated. Special attention is paid to the relationship between the intended audience, the means of presentation and the data capture methodologies required to satisfy the demands of the various audiences. Likely future developments in the fields of data capture and presentation are investigated. The impact of Virtual Reality as a mode of presenting archaeological information on Early Medieval sculpted stone is examined in detail and the potentially detrimental affect of its uncritical use on our understanding of the monuments and the people who created them is examined as well as the positive outcomes envisaged by its proponents. New approaches to the use of Virtual Reality are suggested and its utility in presenting information on Early Medieval sculpted stone is situated within the wider archaeological applications of new recording technologies.