Maptek assists with conservation of historic Southwell Minster

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

Maptek 3D laser technology has been used to capture a detailed, 3D image of the historic Southwell Minster and Cathedral in Nottinghamshire.

The project, in partnership with the Southwell Archeology community group, will assist with large-scale conservation efforts and will provide a new, engaging way for visitors to experience the building.

‘I had heard about Southwell’s conservation program, but it was the fire at Notre Dame that really prompted me to get in touch with the Minster,’ Maptek’s Mark Williams explained.

Maptek SR3

Maptek and Southwell Archeology surveyed the Minster from multiple vantage points

‘I’ve visited Southwell with my wife on a number of occasions and it’s just the most stunning building. When I watched the tragedy unfold at Notre Dame on the news, the surveyor in me hoped that someone had performed a 3D scan of the cathedral as I knew it could help with rebuilding efforts. I also realised the same thing could happen to Southwell and that we at Maptek were in a position to help with our 3D laser scanners.

When restoration work is required, Southwell can refer back to these high-detailed 3D images to restore precious, unique details of the cathedral with great precision.

Southwell Minster has a long and complex history and represents a valuable piece of British cultural heritage. People have worshipped at Southwell Minster for 900 years, it is the site of Charles I capture during the English Civil War and the village of Southwell is also the birthplace of the Bramley apple.

Today, the Minster is arguably most famous for the Leaves of Southwell, 13th century naturalistic carvings that are amongst the finest in Europe and have long been a source of inspiration to artists and writers. Such is the importance attached to the Leaves that earlier this year, Southwell secured a £1.9m National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to fund a project aimed at enabling more people to visit and enjoy the Leaves, the Minster and its environs and to secure the fabric of the building.

In May and June of 2019, Mark Williams and Southwell Archeology used a Maptek SR3 laser scanner to capture detailed 3D images of the Minster from multiple vantage points in order to create a complete model of the site (see above). As part of the project, Mark delivered free training to heritage practicioners on survey techniques and how to transform laser scan (LIDAR) data into a 3D image.                                                                                                     

‘It’s been a real pleasure working with Southwell Archeology and we hope that this project will allow visitors to experience the Minster in a new way. To see this beautiful building from a new perspective’ said Mark Williams. ‘Crucially, the scans can play a big part in the conservation process. When restoration work is required, Southwell can refer back to these high-detailed 3D images to restore precious, unique details of the cathedral with great precision.’

On Thursday 7 November, Mark Williams and Southwell Archeology will present the project to the public at the Minster.  

Maptek hopes to return to Southwell in the near future to survey the interior of the Minster and we look forward to working with other cathedrals around the country involved in similar projects.

Maptek’s 3D laser technology is renowned in the mining industry, and we have also been involved in fascinating heritage conservation projects, find out more about them here:
Maptek Heritage Projects

For the Southwell Minster project, we used the following Maptek equipment and software, learn more about the technology at the following links:
Maptek SR3 laser scanner
Maptek PointStudio software 


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