Photo Modelling as a Tool for Recording Built Heritage

(Wessex Archaeology, Salisbury, UK)

Keywords: Photogrammetry, Built Heritage, Photo Modelling

Wessex Archaeology has been carrying out in–house development of the use of digital photogrammetry in Historic Building Recording over the past two years. Development is currently at an advanced stage and it is hoped to ultimately prove to be the most efficient, accurate and cost effective way of capturing 3D data of a variety of buildings and monument types.
In 2015, initial trials were carried out on a small basis to assess the quality and effectiveness of this technique when used specifically within the built heritage environment. As part of the trials, survey control was imposed to assess the accuracy of any finished model. Early efforts confirmed that, while a high level of survey control accuracy was possible, texture resolution was less than acceptable for presentation and archive record.
Further advances, in both data capture technique and quality of software processing, has led to a measured and noticeable improvement of image and survey quality which is presently able to rival traditional rectified photography and survey techniques. The combination of three key associated elements, first class photographic data, accurate survey control and improved processing software, has provided tangible improvements in photogrammetric recording for buildings.
The experience gained in the use of UAV’s for high level image gathering and the use of fixed camera masts, where UAV’s are not permitted, has enabled previously difficult areas to be accessed and 3D models to be completed. This paper will detail the photogrammetric journey Wessex Archaeology have been on over the last two years and demonstrate how photogrammetry can be used as a serious archaeological tool and not just a show piece.

Relevance conference / Relevance session:
This paper examines the use of a digital technology which has seen wide popular use in recent years, but little critical examination in commercial archaeology.

This paper describes how photogrammetry is now being used as a reliable replacement for more traditional techniques such as rectified photography due to the quality we are now able to achieve.


  • McCarthy, J. (2014) Multi-image photogrammetry as a practical tool for cultural heritage survey and community engagement, Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 43, 175-185
  • Historic England (forthcoming) Photogrammetric Applications for Cultural Heritage