Laser zaps Antonine Wall to produce 3D model

Lasers at the ready
Lasers at the ready

Falkirk’s historic Antonine Wall was zapped by cutting edge laser technology this week in a bid to preserve the 2000-year-old landmark forever.

A team of 3D scanning experts from the Scottish Ten Project, which aims to digitally record the country’s World and International Heritage Sites, visited a section of the wall in Rough Castle, Bonnybridge.

Falkirk Council’s spokesman for culture, leisure and tourism Adrian Mahoney said: “It’s really exciting to think that we will soon have a 3D digital model of the wall which we can then use for interpretation and display purposes. The other good thing about the digital scan is it may uncover features of the wall which we don’t actually know about.”

Scottish Ten is a joint initiative by Historic Scotland, experts in 3D visualisation from Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio and members of international non-profit organisation CYArk.

The laser used by the project team can survey and interpret heritage structures in 3D and provide lasting images of the sites.

A Project Ten spokesperson said: “Our primary aims are to digitally preserve important historical sites for the benefit of future generations in Scotland and overseas, as well as share and promote Scottish technical expertise in conservation and digital visualisation.

“It is possible to build on the initial scan data to create models or animations to use in helping visitors to sites understand them better or allow virtual access to areas the public can not see.

“We can also provide data to site staff allowing them to better care for their heritage asset.”

The Antonine Wall was constructed by the Romans to serve as the north-west frontier of their empire. When it was built on the orders of the Emperor Antoninus Pius around AD 140, it was the most complex frontier ever built by the Roman army.

The last of the linear frontiers, it ran for 40 miles from Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth, to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde, and was only occupied for about a generation before being abandoned in the AD 160s.

A symbol of the Roman Empire’s power and control, it was never a stone wall, but consisted of a turf rampart fronted by a wide and deep ditch.