Skara Brae, Orkney (courtesy of Historic Scotland)

Skara Brae

Scottish Ten >

Research Themes
Digital Visualisation

Research Staff
Alastair Rawlinson

Partner Organisations
Historic Scotland

The Scottish Ten is an ambitious five-year project to create exceptionally accurate digital models of Scotland’s five UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites and five international heritage sites. Created using cutting-edge technology, these models help us to better manage, conserve, interpret and research important historical sites for future generations.  

The Scottish Ten uses high-precision laser scanning to produce a digital record for future generations. The sites chosen include Scotland’s five World Heritage Sites, recognised for their international cultural significance: Neolithic Orkney, The Antonine Wall, The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, New Lanark, and the Island of St Kilda. The Scottish Ten will also document five international sites of outstanding significance: the Mount Rushmore National Memorial (USA), the 11th-century Royal Stepwell Rani ki Vav, Gujarat (India), the Eastern Qing tombs, Zunhua (China), the Sydney Opera House (Australia), and an early 20th-century Glasgow-built crane in Nagasaki Harbour (Japan). The accuracy of the digital models means that they can be used to monitor damage, informing conservation and management strategies. The scan data can also be used to create models or animations to enhance public access and understanding, and to digitally reconstruct how monuments would have appeared at different periods in time.

The project positions Scotland as a world leader in documentation and visualisation of the historic environment, with opportunities to showcase our innovation on a world stage. The Scottish Ten aims to foster international collaboration and build lasting cultural and economic partnerships, as well as to share and promote Scottish technical expertise in conservation and digital visualisation. The project is sharing data with the non-profit conservation organisation CyArk and with international governments in order to promote interest in global historic monuments. The project has had a global impact, forging intellectual and diplomatic links, raising awareness of digital approaches to heritage conservation, and changing the policies of heritage organisations across the world. Research and development undertaken during the project has pioneered new digital methodologies and addressed many technical challenges.

This unique partnership between The Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation and Historic Scotland has created the Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation LLP in order to carry out the project and undertake other commercial projects.

‘The Scottish Ten is an excellent example of digital diplomacy and cultural exchange, helping enhance the mutual understanding between Scotland and China, creating an atmosphere of respect, trust and celebration.’ First Minister Alex Salmond.