Specialist Survey Techniques
Specialist survey techniques, such as photogrammetry and laser scanning, are a fundamental component of any heritage project.
Often referred to as metric or measured survey, these techniques provide visual and metrically accurate base data for a variety of heritage applications including conservation planning, condition surveys, decay monitoring, recording, architectural analysis, archaeological investigation and site presentation.
3D laser scanning
Laser scanning provides a fast, automatic method of recording historic places using laser light for measuring in three dimensions. This measuring technique can be used for heritage projects such as:
- recording sites or structures
- examination of features to reveal small details
- structural or condition monitoring
- analysing the development of a site or structure and its significance
- site interpretation and models
There are three scanning systems: triangulation, pulse and phase.
Our guidance provides detailed advice about using laser scanning in heritage projects.
Recent developments in multi-image photogrammetry and machine vision have led to increased use of structure-from-motion (SfM) across aerial, terrestrial and close-range applications. SfM allows three-dimensional structures to be derived from two-dimensional image sequences. An application of this technique has included examining SfM photogrammetry of artefacts from Rievaulx Abbey as a means of recording for the English Heritage Curatorial Team at Helmsley Archaeological Store.
You can download some of these recent examples of applying SfM and laser scanning as Research Reports:
- A survey of the historic carvings at Carlisle Castle, Cumbria, using Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry and terrestrial laser scans.
- Church of St Edward and the Market Place, Leek, Staffordshire: Geospatial Survey of Standing Medieval Cross.
- Examining Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry of artefacts from Rievaulx Abbey as a means of recording for the English Heritage Curatorial Team, Helmsley Archaeological Store.
- A Trial of Different Geospatial Techniques to Improve the Legibility of the Engraving on the Stone from Fishpool Valley
Historic England has produced new technical guidance about the archaeological application of photogrammetry with particular reference to SfM techniques. This new publication raises awareness of the issues that are commonly encountered and the many potential uses for photogrammetry across a wide variety of scales, ranging from landscapes to small objects.
Reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) is an innovative multi-light imaging technique that uses a pre-fabricated dome to produce an interactive output for revealing subtle surface relief.
View the 2020 webinar: Geospatial survey
Geospatial survey encompasses a wide range of survey technologies for capturing three dimensional data and digital imagery of heritage objects, buildings and landscapes. Once processed the outputs provide accurate, scalable base documentation that aids a variety of applications including archaeological/architectural analysis, site presentation, condition survey, structural monitoring and conservation works planning.
This webinar discusses the heritage application of geospatial survey technologies and through reference to two case studies, considers their use for historic buildings and structures alongside some of the challenges faced when undertaking or commissioning such survey work.
View the 2021 webinars on remote inspection:
- Part 1: Drones for remote inspection.
- Part 2: Laser scanning for remote inspection.
- Part 3: Reality capture for remote inspection.
For the best webinar experience, please use Google Chrome browser or download Adobe Connect.
Read more about using drones for inspection and survey in volume 168 of Context, the Journal of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, published by Cathedral Communications Ltd in May 2021.