A grave situation: 3d scanning of medieval ship carvings

The maritime history of the west of Scotland is incredibly rich and one of the most important elements of it was the birlinn, or Highland galley – derived from Viking progenitors. This was the backbone of the medieval lordships of the west coast of Scotland and coastal parts of Ireland and there were thousands of galleys in operation during this period, undertaking both domestic and military activities. Unfortunately we have no physical remains of any galley and cannot analyse their construction and development. However we do have an amazing collection of contemporary carvings of galleys, some of which are very detailed. The SAMPHIRE team visited Denis Rixson, one of the foremost scholars on this subject, at his bookshop in Glasgow a few weeks ago and discussed his map of the ship carvings in Scotland. We then followed up today with the help of local resident Charlie Lamont and well-known historian and Lochaline resident Iain Thornber who has been researching the carved stones of Morvern for over 20 years. Iain has been involved in the preservation of a nationally significant group of medieval carved gravestones at Kiel, four of which depict Highland galleys. Between two dive surveys we visited the church at Kiel and carried out 3D scans of a collection of four grave slabs which depict Highland galleys. We will process these scans and post some of the results shortly.

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  1. Pingback: Kiel haul: 3D scans of galley carvings | SAMPHIRE

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