The main focus of the Tracing the Past Project is to use digital technologies to survey, measure and analyse the geometry of English medieval vaults. Due to their high location within churches and other buildings, vaults are often difficult to survey manually. By using digital technologies such as laser scanning, total station and photogrammetry, we are able to produce surveys of church interiors far faster and more accurately than can be done by hand. The resulting data is then converted into 3D models and orthophotos, enabling us to study their geometry using 3D CAD software. By tracing the intrados lines of the ribs, we are able to take accurate measurements of their geometrical properties, allowing us to develop and test new hypotheses regarding the vaults’ design processes. Our 3D models and orthophotos are then archived with the University of Liverpool and/or the Archaeology Data Service, making them available to the public for any non-commercial purpose.

Image of laser scanner in use at Norwich Cathedral