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Old meets new as prehistoric cave is digitised

Published: Fri 29 Sept 2017

Archaeologists from Bradford have created a digital model of the iconic Sculptor’s Cave in Moray, Scotland.

The high resolution digital model not only demonstrates the size and layout of the cave but importantly highlights the Pictish (early medieval) symbols found on the walls that make the cave so fascinating.

The cave was also used as a focus for complex funerary rites and the deposition of precious objects in the Late Bronze Age/Iron Age.

Professor Ian Armit and Dr Lindsey Büster, both from the School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences at the University of Bradford, have been carrying out new research at the Sculptor’s Cave since 2013, as well as analysing the results of old excavations (from the 1920s and 1970s).

Professor Armit said: “The Sculptor’s Cave is a fascinating location, known for decades for the richness of its archaeology and for the unusual Pictish carvings around its entrance.

“This walk-through animation allows us to study the carvings in detail, and to present this inaccessible site to the public through online and museum displays. It also ensures that we can preserve the cave and the carvings digitally for future generations to study.”

The site, which can only be accessed at low tide, has been analysed through the use of modern scientific methods and innovative digital technologies such as laser-scanning and structured light scanning. The digital model has been created in collaboration with Bradford Visualisation also based at the University of Bradford.

An animation of the model is being deposited with the Elgin Museum and will be used in their exhibition material and on www.elginmuseum.org.uk.

The project is funded by Historic Environment Scotland. A monograph authored by Professor Ian Armit and Dr Lindsey Büster, published by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, will appear in 2018.

Dr. Rebecca Jones, Head of Archaeology & World Heritage at Historic Environment Scotland said: “It’s great to see the model of Sculptors Cave at completion stage. It’s such a valuable resource as the cave can often be difficult to access.  It is wonderful to have such a detailed interactive model so that audiences have the opportunity to explore the Pictish engravings up close.”

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