Cultural Heritage Through Time (CHT2)


Historic England, English Heritage, Politecnico di Milano, Salamanca University, Stanislaw Staszic Scientific Association

Start date/ end date

September 2015 to April 2018

Type of collaboration

Multi-Stakeholder with UK heritage sector charities and university across UK and Europe (Italy, Poland and Spain)

Motivation for collaboration

Diachronic landscape change studies are fundamental for documenting, maintaining and safeguarding all forms of cultural heritage in a sustainable manner. Utilising time-varying 3D products, from landscape to architectural scale, to envisage and analyse lost scenarios or visualize changes due to anthropic activities or intervention, pollution, wars, earthquakes or other natural hazards. 

How the collaboration was formed

Facilitated through Joint Programming Initiative in Cultural Heritage (JPI-CH): with UK funding from UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC, award number AH/N504440/1).

Benefits derived from collaboration

The collaboration enabled generation of 4D (3D+time) digital models of cultural heritage (CH) sites, and development of methodology for future monitoring of heritage evolution (structures and landscapes) as a means of safeguarding. The methodology to collect actual and historic heterogeneous datasets such as survey data, photographs, 3D non-contact data (as those from laser scanning or photogrammetry), and semantic data among others and data fusion to facilitate CH 4D analysis was implemented at rural and urban landscape scales with four case studies in Europe (Figure 1). 

Figure 1: (top left) Ancient Roman Circus in Milan, Italy; (top right) Medieval Walls of Avila, Spain; (bottom left) Fortress City of Krakow, Poland; (bottom right) Hadrian’s Wall and its landscape at Birdoswald.

In particular for the UK case study, while some Hadrian’s Wall sites, such as Birdoswald and Beckfoot, have seen dramatic change as a result of natural processes in the last couple of decades, at others such as Corbridge, the transformation is less obvious, but nonetheless profoundly significant. Modelling 4D change allows us to quantify and communicate the rate and pattern of change, but it also helps advance research into such sites more generally (Figure 2).

Figure 2: (top left) 2016 geophysical data superimposed over drone imagery showing the presence of Roman settlements at Beckfoot; (top right) 2006 and 2016 3D landscape models of Corbridge; (bottom) 1946 and 2016 3D landscape models of Birdoswald.

Legacy of collaboration

CHT2 of the UK case study has already left several important legacies on Hadrian’s Wall, its methodology is already being implemented and contributed to the rationale for a recent IAPETUS-funded PhD on the modelling of environmental change and its impact on Hadrian’s Wall. Furthermore, it has also enriched the data of ongoing field projects at both Beckfoot and Corbridge. To this must be added the fact that CHT2 data offers a vital indication of just how at risk our ‘at risk’ sites really are.

Lessons learned

The 4D approach of CHT2 provided the potential to help us critically appraise retro-projections of landscape change around the Hadrian’s Wall. The capacity to map recent landscape change with vastly higher resolution opens up the possibility of adding a further form of controlled modelling of longer-term trajectories to be set alongside other sources of environmental data for ancient sites.

URL/ further information

More about the CHT2 Project-

Cultural Heritage through Time- Exhibition video: