Quiet Cathedral welcomes high tech visitor

Wednesday 3 June

The absence of worshippers, visitors and even clergy from the Cathedral during lockdown has meant that the ancient space has been strangely quiet.

Yet in recent days this very quietness has provided a unique opportunity for cutting edge technology to get to work.

A team from Architectural & Heritage Scanning Ltd, who have over 20 years of experience of stonemasonry and historical building construction, has been 3D scanning the Cathedral from top to bottom. Detailed scans of the ground floor, triforium and undercroft are complete and the next stage is to extend the scanning to cover the clerestory (top level), roof and exterior.

The company are using a highly accurate laser scanner to create the detailed images, with cloud points. These can be used to generate CAD drawings and plans, with measurements that are accurate to within 4mm.

Tom Küpper, the Cathedral’s Estates and Facilities Manager, is excited about the possibilities:

“The potential for the use of these scans is huge. It means that even the most inaccessible parts of the site can be explored by contractors who are preparing to carry out repairs and maintenance. It will save on the time and cost of site visits and it is better from a health and safety point of view, especially at clerestory level. Architects and archaeologists will also be able to examine artefacts in detail without disturbance to the site.”

A similar technology had been used to map Notre Dame Cathedral before the devastating fire there last year, giving vital information to those now working on its reconstruction.

The potential for use of the 3D images in education and for virtual tours is also an exciting prospect, especially at a time when it is not possible for large numbers of people to visit in person. The technology even offers the possibility of creating 3D printed replicas. Imagine miniature versions of objects such as the Hedda stone or the font, or even the whole cathedral, going on sale in the Cathedral Shop!

A 3D scan of the Hedda stoneA 3D print of the Hedda stoneA 3D scan of a tomb in the Cathedral

A detail of the 3D scan of the font

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