Aerial Photography and Visualisation for Built Heritage - PhD Portfolio by Kieran Baxter
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Monday, 17 October 2011

Photographing the Iron Age Roof at Loch Tay's Crannog

The Scottish Crannog Centre is a reconstruction of a 2600 year old roundhouse built out on the waters of Loch Tay. It is of particular interest to my project as the roof is of a similar structure to what may have covered the northern brochs.

My aim was to capture the detail of the roof in different lighting conditions and from enough angles to attempt photogrammetry. Because of the surrounding trees and water I flew the kite from a small boat, skillfully piloted by my brother Dan. After several passes, 2 hours and over 4000 frames we got the angles I was looking for.

The Crannog was built in 1994 based on underwater excavations of Oakbank, a site further along the loch. For the most part traditional methods and materials were used in the reconstruction although it is worth mentioning that the original roof was most likely thatched with bracken rather than the reed thatch used in the contemporary version. The bracken would probably have appeared rougher and darker and would have decomposed faster. The spread of lichen (white dots) on the shaded north side is clearly visible after just over 15 years.

Taking a tour of the Crannog you can get a feel for the life and atmosphere in this kind of settlement. There is no chimney, instead smoke would filter slowly through the roof, helping to preserve meat which would be hung there. A short video and history of the Crannog can be found here.

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