A technical reconstruction drawing of Apethorpe Palace
Visualisation showing Apethorpe Palace © Historic England, Allan Adams
Visualisation showing Apethorpe Palace © Historic England, Allan Adams

Visualising Heritage

Story telling case study: Commemorating the First World War

One hundred years ago, the Great War finally came to an end. Unprecedented numbers of young men were sent to fight, never to return. Families across the globe lost fathers and sons, brothers and uncles. For the young men who went to fight, everyday life was put on hold. A lucky few were able to return to the lives they left behind. 

The graphic novel below telling the story of one young man's experience has been carefully researched and illustrated by Judith Dobie, a reconstruction artist at Historic England.

The Great War did not occur only overseas. One of the early acts of aggression against the United Kingdom was the naval bombardment of Scarborough. The following video documents the morning of the bombardment, with illustrations by John Vallender of Historic England.

Mrs Rowntree of Riseborough’s account of the bombardment has been illustrated in a graphic novel, 'An Episode of War', also by Judith Dobie.

You can find more information on how the First World War changed the English landscape in our new publication, ‘Legacies of the First World War'

Reconstruction art

This technique is the attempt by an artist to visualise scenes from the past almost as though the artist themselves were there drawing what they saw before them. Information is drawn from archaeological remains, environmental evidence and ethnographic sources.

Technical reconstruction

Whilst reconstructive art will visualise scenes from the past , technical reconstruction and illustration will take a more measured approach which lends itself to the illustration of architecture.

Archaeological illustration

Records and illustration of archaeological sites and objects are essential for the presentation and understanding of the sites.

Analytical site drawing

Using traditional survey techniques to aid understanding by observation and close contact with building fabric, particularly useful for vernacular buildings and architectural details.

Analytical site survey and illustration

Whilst measured and drawn methods have significant strengths, successful illustration can use theodolites, CAD and 3D modelling.

GIS and cartography

Heritage data is in essence spread spatially, using GIS can deliver both on a traditional such as the Stonehenge and Hadrian’s Wall walking maps as well as providing access through digital platforms to spatial data such as the Stonehenge Landscape Survey.


Using imagery to present information quickly and easily has been vital in understanding the big data sets created by the Historic Environment.

Our guidance

Our guidance on visualisation techniques is designed to give clarity to complex subjects.