Digital Archaeology from the Air

This is a slightly altered and extended version of the Day of Archaeology post I wrote a little while ago; you can see the original post on the Day of Archaeology website.


Hi, I’m Helen. I’m actually a computer scientist rather than an archaeologist, working on a project called `HeritageTogether’, which is all about creating 3D models of prehistoric sites in Wales. The project is run jointly between archaeologists and computer scientists at Bangor, Aberystwyth and Manchester Metropolitan Universities – I work as a researcher in Aber.

The hexacopter we are using on the HeritageTogether project.

We are making the models using photographs of the site and a process called photogrammetry which matches up the features in photographs and can automatically create the model. While the project is mainly based on photographs contributed by the general public, we sometimes go out to survey some sites ourselves.

To help with our surveying, we have an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) – a remotely controlled flying vehicle that carries a camera; a hexacopter (it has six rotors) to be specific.

Today, Andrew, Joe, Jonathan and I were visiting two sites on Anglesey in North Wales – the Lligwy burial chamber and Din Lligwy settlement near Moelfre. Two beautiful sites which are well worth visiting.

Lligwy burial chamber was the first site we visited. It is a Neolithic tomb made up of eight upright stones supporting a huge capstone which is estimated to weigh at least 25 tonnes.

Lligwy Burial Chamber
Moelfre, Isle of Anglesey

Read more about this site:
Cadw (SAM: AN009)
Coflein (NPRN: 95532)

We flew the hexacopter above the burial chamber, getting a number of photos of the top of the capstone. Once we had done some aerial photography, we landed and photographed the site on foot.

Lligwy Burial Chamber from above!

Lligwy Burial Chamber is now in our gallery:

See the photographs →
See the 3D model →

After we had finished photographing the burial chamber we went a little further down the road to reach the Din Lligwy settlement. The settlement is a group of circular and rectangular building from the Romano-British period, enclosed in a large outer wall.

Din Lligwy Settlement
Moelfre, Isle of Anglesey

Read more about this site:
Cadw (SAM: AN023)
Coflein (NPRN: 95532)

We flew above the site, first taking photographs then also capturing a video. We then took a large number of ground shots of the complex site.

Din Lligwy from above; Joe and I flying the hexacopter.

Din Lligwy Settlement is now in our gallery:

See the photographs →
See the 3D model →

So here are pictures of the two models we made from the surveys:



Finally, here is the rather fantastic bit of video we managed to capture from above the Din Lligwy Settlement (all cut and tidied up by Andrew) – enjoy!


This post was originally published on the HeritageTogether website.

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Open Day Fun at Barclodiad y Gawres

On a blazing hot saturday, the team headed out to Barclodiad y Gawres – a stunning chambered tomb on the coast of Anglesey – for an open day organised in collaboration with Cadw. Since an incident of vandalism some years back, access to the inside of the tomb has been restricted (although access is available on request, see more info on the Cadw website), but during the open day visitors were offered guided tours inside with the wonderful Rhys Mwyn. During the day, Lee flew above the mound and took some great photographs (you can see the whole album here), we made another rock art mural with the help of some wonderfully artistic kids, and spoke to lots of lovely and enthusiastic people about the site.

Rock art inside Barclodiad y Gawres

Barclodiad y Gawres

Using these photographs, we were able to create a model of the mound. We will be heading back to survey the inside sometime soon, as it will require careful lighting to make sure the rock art is photographed at it’s best – if you had a look inside, you will know just how dark it is! Thanks to everyone who came out and visited the site, we hope you had as fantastic a day as we did!


This post was originally published on the HeritageTogether website.

Celebrating the Solstice at Bryn Celli Ddu

On the 21st of June, we joined Cadw at Bryn Celli Ddu for a celebration of all things Neolithic! Visitors got the chance to see flint-knapping demonstrations, learn about aerial photography, make embossed badges and much more.

Lee shot this video from above the site during the day, which is a great watch!

We also had special permission to visit a natural outcrop in a neighbouring field (which is private land, so please don’t visit without permission!) on which up to 28 cup marks were discovered in 2005 (you can see some in the left image). Towards the end of the day, the sun treated us to a fanstastic view of the rock art on the stone just outside the burial chamber.

Cup Marks

Rock Art at Bryn Celli Ddu


This post was originally published on the HeritageTogether website.