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The Rudston Monolith
In the Norman churchyard of All Saints Rudston stands the tallest standing stone in Britain. At nearly 8 metres this impressive monument dates to the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age and is a focal point for the complex prehistoric landscape of the Great Wold Valley.
Building on the success of the Stonehenge analysis project, I was interested to investigate different methods for the digital capture of standing stones. As the largest standing stone in Britain the recording of the Rudston monolith would allow me to experience the logistical problems associated with the accurate 3D survey of large standing stones. The objective of this project was to create a methodology that was an affordable, accurate and a non contact form of digital recording.
Surveying Britain’s tallest standing stone
Using Agisoft Photoscan Pro, a photogrammetric survey was conducted, aligning image pixels to produce a detailed pointcloud.  I developed a data collection methodology that utilised several different camera lenses from different camera setup positions. This combination of wide-angle and telephoto lenses enabled the capture of the fine details on the stone surface. Many of these details  were inaccessible to examination, being high up on the standing stone. This multi lens approach provided a solution to many of the problems associated with the digital capture of a monument of this scale. The processing of photographic data to produce detailed and accurate 3D models, was achieved with Agisoft Photoscan, using image masks and the ‘chunk’ function to slowly build up the model in sections which were later aligned to produce the final model. Using the recent work at Stonehenge as a comparative guide, two resolution models were produced one at 1mm and one at 0.5mm point spacing.
The resolution achieved using this technique is suitable for detailed digital analysis of the surfaces of the standing stone, and is demonstrated by the detail captured in this 1mm elevational view of the stones surfaces.
The Rudston survey demonstrates the potential photogrammetric recording has for the digital preservation and analysis of standing stones. The ability to create 3D models from a series of images is an extremely useful archaeological technique and the power of the latest software looks set to make a dramatic contribution to digital recording in the heritage industry.
High resolution 3D pointcloud