Just a wee update to say our archive will be available on the ADS in the New Year.

The ACCORD archive is now with the Archaeology Data Service (, where it is currently getting accessioned so that the data will be available for all to use freely under a Creative Commons License. We are the first project of its kind in Scotland to create such a varied resource of 3D digital data of all types of heritage (from rock-art to rock-climbs) chosen, designed and made by communities themselves. These models, enriched with statements of social significance, are the legacy of ACCORD.

So we wanted to say a huge thank you to all who participated in ACCORD, contributed to the blog, and passed on knowledge and skills to others- we hope that the conversation continues. If you are active in using these technologies and would like to contribute something to our blog in the future we will keep it open for business. Please send along text, media and images to The project was made possible with funding from the “Digital Transformations in Community Research Co-Production” programme, via the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Thanks also to our partners at Archaeology Scotland, the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, the department of Archaeology at the University of Manchester and our colleagues at the Digital Design Studio, Glasgow School of Art.

Signing off for now,

Dr Stuart Jeffrey (Digital Design Studio, Glasgow School of Art)

Dr Alex Hale (Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland/ now Historic Environment Scotland)

Professor Siân Jones (of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, University of Manchester)

Cara Jones (Archaeology Scotland)

Dr Mhairi Maxwell (Digital Design Studio, Glasgow School of Art)

Thank You For Taking Part!

In these past 18 months ACCORD has worked together with 10 groups across the length and breadth of Scotland, created over 50 GB of data including 17 fantastic 3D models and 23 Reflectance Transformation Images. We have had over 4,000 hits on our blog and have amassed 400 followers on Twitter. And snooker ball sales in Scotland have gone through the roof (only kidding!). Think it’s fair to say we have started something…

A huge thank you to all who have participated in ACCORD, contributed to the blog, and passed on knowledge and skills to others- we hope that the conversation continues. If you would like to contribute something to the blog in the future we will keep it open for business. Please send along text, media and images to or

The ACCORD archive is now in its final stage of preparations for uploading onto the Archaeology Data Service where it will be accessible for all to use freely under a Creative Commons License. We are the first project of its kind in Scotland to create such a varied resource of 3D digital data of all types of heritage (from rock-art to rock-climbs) chosen, designed and made by communities themselves. These models, enriched with statements of social significance, are the legacy of ACCORD.ACCORD

smiley happy people

Keep clicking and sharing!

Signing off for now,

Mhairi, Stuart, Alex, Cara and Sian

More 3D models from Uist!

David Newman from the Access Archaeology group, Uist, writes…

During the autumn of 2014 Uist community members have continued to use their ACCORD training last summer to produce more 3D models and images of archaeological sites on Uist.

These included an aerial record of a Neolithic cairn on the northern shore of South Uist currently on the red list of sites threatened by rising sea levels and being monitored under the SCAPE SCHARP project.  This site now floods regularly during spring high tides and the imaging will provide a valuable comparative record to establish if the site is being eroded or not.

3D photogrammetric model of Sig More

Aerial plan view of Sig More possible chambered cairn South Uist. David Newman, Access Archaeology. (David Newman, Access Archaeology)

A similar record was made of a remote but well known archaeological site on the east side of Benbecula which is recorded as both a farmstead settlement and a cup-marked slab.  The imaging showed not only the possibility that the slab could be related to a former cairn, but that two possible roundhouses existed on the site, half of the walls of one being incorporated into an old byre!

3D photogrammetric model of Hacklett Uachdar

Aerial plan view of Hacklett Uachdar farmstead and cup marked stone, Benbecula. (David Newman, Access Archaeology)

In early November 2014 local ornithologist Roger Auger noticed an oddly shaped feature on a beach on the west side of North Uist in an area of mud and silt newly exposed after a recent storm.  This turned out to be the remains of an oval basket containing bones and quartz blades which became known as the ‘Baleshare basket’ and caused some excitement in the Scottish archaeological community.

3D photogrammetric model of the Baleshare site.

Baleshare basket detail. (Richard Auger and David Newman, Access Archaeology)

Following a visit by the Western Isles County Archaeologist a specialist recovery team from Edinburgh was commissioned to remove it a few days later and it is now in storage awaiting investigation.  3D imaging was used to record the basket and contents and the surrounding silt bank which included other pits and grooves, and animal and possibly human footprints.  This find is likely to have an early date as it lay under Iron Age deposits that were washed away in the 2005 hurricane.

3D photogrammetric survey of Baleshare Basket site.

Baleshare basket whole site. (David Newman, Access Archaeology)

In late November during a field walking trip on the remote and uninhabited east side of North Uist, Roger Auger, David Newman and Simon Davies discovered a significant set of stone structures hidden in thick heather on a rocky knoll which had never been previously recorded.  These included several small circular stone walled cells partly underground, one of which has around 1/3 of its corbelled stone roof intact and another a stone lined entrance passage which may have been up to 10m long originally.  And, lying out on the ground surface amongst the remains, was a saddle quern complete with its rubbing stone in position.  Using drone, kite and pole mounted cameras to produce 3D photo models the site layout was recorded to a very reasonable standard in just two visits.

3D photogrammetri survey of Bagh Moraig.

Bagh Moraig North Uist whole site. (David Newman, Access Archaeology)

The Uist Access Archaeology group has come to realise that in difficult or remote access situations or when time is short such as between tides, 3D photo imaging is an extremely useful tool in making relatively accurate preliminary site records of archaeological sites, in the minimum amount of time, with simple equipment that most people already have to hand.  With an aerial component the imaging can also help reveal not only a wider site context, but also help identify other possible structures not immediately evident on the ground.

More info here!

3D photogrammetric model of the saddle quern at Bagh Moraig.

3D photogrammetric model of the saddle quern at Bagh Moraig. (David Newman, Access Archaeology)


I never thought that while on an archeology dig in the Loch Lomond area I’d be using clever computing power for recording and research. I use similar technologies at work and my trip to Loch Lomond was supposed to be something different, a change of pace so to speak. I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised when the ACCORD project came out to meet our group and introduce photogrammetry.

Our introduction to the program was from Project partners Dr. Stuart Jeffrey and Dr. Mhairi Maxwell. Over the summer of 2014 the ACCORD team have been traveling across Scotland to engage local communities with photogrammetry and other 3D visualization techniques. Without a doubt, their visit was the highlight of my trip.

The technology itself is relatively straightforward to use. Find something you want to model, take a bunch of pictures, and use some software to stitch it all together into a 3D model (we used Agisoft Photoscan). Now there is more to it than that, but that’s the process in a nutshell.

Our original intent was to reproduce only the dig site on Tarbet Isle, north Loch Lomond. However, after seeing how the process worked I asked if they’d be willing to help me do the MacFarlane stones south along the shoreline in Luss. I really wanted to be able to capture and share that piece of our history.

If you ever visit the church you might miss the stones if you’re not looking up. My first time there, I walked completely around the church looking for them not realizing I had walked under them twice. They’re situated in the north wall and sit probably around 10 – 12’ feet in the air.

The MacFarlane Stones in Luss Church (1875 – Current)

The MacFarlane Stones in Luss Church, 1875 – Current. (Preston McFarland)

Little is known about these stones. Our best source of information comes from Sir William Fraser in his book The Chiefs of Colquhoun and Their Country, Vol 2 (1869).

“The present church of Luss was built entirely at the expense of Sir James Colquhoun of Luss in the year 1771 and is seated for 500 persons. It stands at the distance of only a few feet from the old church of which a part of the wall of the chancel still remains at the north side of the present church. The spot on which it is built formed part of the churchyard of the old church. The first church of Luss after the Reformation stood on the same site as the old. It was what is called a ‘theekit’ church having been covered with thatch according to the practice of the times. The present church encloses a portion of the ground on which was the vault or place of interment of the Macfarlanes of Arrochar. Of this vault the only fragment that now remains is a stone which originally formed part of it and which has been built into the north wall of the present church It bears the following inscription:









J . M . 1612 .

The building that we see today was built in 1875 and is the 3rd church to occupy the site after the stones were carved. However, there has been a church on the site since 510 A.D.There’s little doubt that this land was sacred to the MacFarlanes even after it passed to into the care of the Colquhouns.

In the 400 years since the stones were carved, time has taken a toll. Much of the text in the middle stone is now erased and what remains is hard to read. In another 400 it’s doubtful that the stones will be legible at all, if they still exist.

Using the techniques the ACCORD program is promoting, we now have a high quality 3D model of the stones that can persist indefinitely. This next image shows the model. Notice how it’s composed of triangles. In modeling terms, we call these polygons. The more polygons you have the better the detail. This particular model contains about 10.2 million polygons (That’s remarkable!). Polygons by themselves create form and detail, but you need texture if you want the color and realism.

Meshed 3D model produced by Agisoft PhotoScan. (Preston McFarlin)

Meshed 3D model produced by Agisoft PhotoScan. (Preston McFarland)

This image shows the model once the texture (coloring) has been applied.

Textured 3D model produced by Agisoft PhotoScan. (Preston McFarlin)

Textured 3D model produced by Agisoft PhotoScan. (Preston McFarland)

Textured 3D model of the MacFarlane Plaque

I really like how it’s captured the lichens and moss. It truly is quite incredible.

Once the model has been created, I sent it to my local 3D printer company and had them print a 4’ copy. Here you can see it in my hand. The precision of the print is really impressive. There’s even a bit of green moss up on the bones.

I now feel as if we’ve preserved this small piece of our heritage. It could be 100 or 1000 years from now and someone will be able to reproduce the MacFarlane stones with high quality. The model exceeds the resolution of today’s printers, but I’m sure tomorrow’s printers will even be better.

My printed 4’’x4’’ copy! (Preston McFarlin)

My printed 4’’x4’’ copy! (Preston McFarland)

I haven’t forgotten about the model for Tarbet Isle, however the processing requirements are quite large and it will take time to get right. Stay tuned!

What have we been up to?

Well, it has been a busy few weeks! I am busy beavering away in the Digital Design Studio, archiving all the results to go on the Archaeology Data Service early next year. Occasionally, I am distracted by the 3D printer!

3D print of the Monteith Mausoleum, Glasgow Necropolis. Printed from the photogrammetic model made by ACCORD with the Friends of the Glasgow Necropolis.

3D print of the Monteith Mausoleum, Glasgow Necropolis. Printed from the photogrammetic model made by ACCORD with the Friends of the Glasgow Necropolis.

And, only yesterday Alex Hale (ACCORD co-investigator based at RCAHMS) and I returned from TAG, short for the ‘Theoretical Archaeology Group’, conference held in Manchester 15th -17th December. ACCORD had not just one paper, but two! This is a very popular conference, founded back in 1979, attracting people from all over the world to hear the latest developments in theory & practice in archaeology.


TAG! Annual archaeology conference, this year held in Manchester University.

First of all, in the session ‘OK:Computer, Digital Public Archaeologies in Practice’ (the organiser a fan of Radiohead perchance?), I introduced our work made together with communities collaborating in ACCORD. In particular, I showcased how the techniques of photogrammetry and RTI can be used for a range of different community heritage projects in a variety of different places and contexts. People who spoke to me after were excited with the results we have achieved together & in general the technical accessibility of the technologies. However other issues of barriers to access (wifi/ broadband access in remote areas, the quality of results achieved on free versus pay-for software, and the language of experts) were raised in the discussion. We would be keen to hear more on this from you! Do you feel confident in using these technologies for recording, promoting or communicating your heritage? Please add comments to this post by clicking on the speech bubble.

Secondly, Alex Hale presented ACCORD’s collaboration with the Dumbarton Rock-climbers in the ‘Archaeology of Sport: Theory, Method & Practice’ session. Our presentation, co-written with John Watson and John Hutchinson, who are both regular climbers at Dumbarton and active participants on this project, is below as a video. We also played this short vid, which really encapsulates the materiality of Dumby

This session was really successful at bringing to attention the value of contemporary sport heritage and how it can add new perspectives to archaeological interpretation. For example, as contemporary expressions of community, identity and tradition. And, now my boyfriend may even be able to tempt me to a football match!

For more information on the sessions please follow this link:

And check out the live tweets using the hashtags #sportarch #TAG2014

And for more info on Dumby, check out the blog posts at

Mhairi Maxwell (ACCORD RA) 18th December 2014

ACCORD in Bressay, Shetland

John Scott of the Bressay History Group writes on when ACCORD came to Shetland to record the old township of Cullingsburgh on the island of Bressay…

The 8th October saw Bernard Redman, John Scott, Jane Manson, Beatrice Lowe and Chris Dyer of the Bressay History Group at the Bressay Heritage Centre waiting apprehensively for the indomitable two, Mhairi Maxwell and Cara Jones, who had arrived in Lerwick 27 hours later than they intended due to high seas. We sat down for the afternoon while Mhairi introduced the ideas behind photogrammetry and RTI and how in practice it all worked. Sounded like magic but she did not look like a witch so was spared. Then Cara asked each of us about our origins and interests and how we came to be living in Bressay. One answer being “Mum and Dad must have been too close in bed”. We also realised that our group was part of the research project, so we would be sharing our work with others. However, the round the table start was good as the next morning we set out for the site knowing each other better (and Cara feeling a lot better) and what we were going to tackle.

The group at Cullingsburgh Manse

Jane Manson of the Bressay History group telling us all about Cullingsburgh Manse and how her relative was the last to live here in this township sometime in the 18th Century.

The site was at Cullingsburgh on the East side of Bressay. Multilayered archaeology of prehistoric field divisions topped by bronze age Burnt Mounds, an iron age Broch, a pictish carved stone, norse longhouses, the medieval cross kirk of St Mary and an abandoned crofting township. An area we, the Bressay History Group, have long intended to survey and explore. It is a green and fertile peninsula with low rocky shores home to seals and otters, a wildflower heaven on a summer’s day, open to the north wind in winter. Our chosen targets were a 1636 grave stone and the roofless manse in the township.

The grave stone of Commander Claes Jansen Bruyn

Within the kirkyard lies this memorial stone to the Commander of the Amboina, a vessel of the Dutch East India Company. She had sailed as escort from Surat in the Indian Ocean on 9th February 1636, had been delayed so missed the Dutch convoy at the Cape of Good Hope, left Table Bay on 9th May for a terrible voyage of headwinds and disease amongst the crew. The Amboina turned up in the Bressay Sound on 24th August with 29 of her crew perished, her Commander dying and only “20 healthy men remained, who, not being able to govern the ship, have, with great good fortune, reached harbour.” Commander Bruyn died on 27th August. Later the memorial stone must have been shipped from Holland to mark his grave here at Cullingsburgh.

RTI image  of Commander Claes Jansen Bruyn's grave

RTI image of Commander Claes Jansen Bruyn’s crest on his grave, at Cullingsburgh kirk. He died 27th August 1636. It is now much eroded, if you look closely RTI has revealed the swan on the shield and enhanced the details of the fleur de lis.

The grave stone was recorded in the Inventory of Ancient Monuments in 1928 and it is evident that the surface has been eroded since then. We decided to use the magic arts of RTI to record its present state and decipher the lettering and design which can no longer be clear to the naked eye. Mhairi persuaded us to mount the camera on its tripod over the grave slab, place the shiny ball, take up the torches and envelope ourselves in a green tarpaulin. No stranger site has been seen in the kirkyard for many moons. We followed her instructions processing on the computer the results.

The Manse of Cullingsburgh

Cullingsburgh Manse, Bressay, Sheltand.

Cullingsburgh Manse, Bressay, Sheltand.

Jane Manson and John Scott

Jane Manson and John Scott with the magic pole capturing the photographs of Cullingburgh Manse with the Magic Pole (!) for our 3D model.

This building stands amongst the croft houses of similar size. We think that the last Minister to live at Cunningsburgh removed about 1737. We know that the last inhabitant of the house was Lowrie Manson who died in 1897. This was the end of human occupation of the township. We decided to record the building by photogrammetry. Using three cameras, one atop the pole and recorded on the computer, we took some 900 photos. We then collected ourselves and our kit and headed back to the shelter of the Heritage centre for lunch and the afternoon.

Here we fed in all the photos into the two programmes on the computer, which instead of bursting into flames began to hum away to itself. Slowly the photogrammetrical image of the Manse began to emerge and we could look all round it from any direction flying and hovering wherever we wished. The image grew in detail to a remarkable degree. We did likewise with the RTI programme and eventually received the clearly decipherable images of the family crest and lettering.


Photogrammetry model in progress of Cullinsburgh Manse, processed using Agisoft Photoscan.

The Bressay group found the whole exercise a stimulating and exciting experience. We will build on it. We do wish to thank Mhairi and Cara for their patience, brilliance and good company.

John Scott

King of the Castle!

The Accord crew were back with the How Old Are Yew group in Castlemilk this week where we met with Kenny Hunter who is the artist responsible for the sculpture ‘King of the Castle’ and – we can proudly boast- a Glasgow School of Art alumni! Since it was erected in 1999, the artwork has enjoyed a rich and varied life – sometimes a proud Rangers supporter and other days a committed Celtic fan!! This rascal is much loved by the local community, and was chosen by the ‘How Old Are Yew’ Castlemilk history group to be modeled in 3D. You can find a work-in-progress PDF of our 3D model in the attachment (download the attachment to your computer, open in the latest Adobe PDF, and be amazed!).KingoftheCastle2_3_11_14

Jean Devlin, a member of the ‘How Old Are Yew’ group did a wee bit of extra research and wrote on the Castlemilk History facebook page:

The King of the Castle has had a wee restoration done on him just recently …
After further research by the Castlemilk History Group today, we found out that this was the caption which was on the original coating at the foot of “The King of The Castle”… “Somewhere in the distance is my Future”… It was written by a member of the Castlemilk writer’s group at the time, of which Des Dillon was the writer in residence …


King of the Castle, Kenny Hunter, 1999.

The How Old Are yew history group taking photographs and speaking with artist Kenny Hunter.

The How Old Are yew history group taking photographs and speaking with artist Kenny Hunter.