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The Application of Digital Photogrammetric Techniques and Aerial Photography to the Preservation of Archaeological Detail.

Case Study: The Copney Stone Circle Complex, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland.

Paul F. Carey, Stephen Trew & John Meneely

School of Geosciences,
The Queen's University of Belfast,
Belfast, BT7 1NN


The Copney Stone Circle Complex, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, is an important Bronze Age site forming part of the Mid-Ulster Stone Circle Complex. The Environment Service: Historic Monuments and Buildings (ESHMB) initiated a program of bog-clearance in August 1994 to excavate the stone circles. This work was completed by October 1994 and the excavated site was surveyed in August 1995. Almost immediately, the rate at which the stones forming the circles were breaking down was noted and a program of study initiated to make recommendations upon the conservation of this important site. Digital photogrammetric techniques were applied to aerial images of the stone circles and digital terrain models created from the images at a range of scales. These provide base data sets for comparison with identical surveys to be completed in successive years and will allow the rate of deterioration, and the areas most affected, of the circles to be determined. In addition, a 2D analysis of the stones provides an accurate analysis of the absolute 2D dimensions of the stones for rapid desktop computer analysis by researchers remote from the digital photogrammetric workstation used in the survey.

The products of this work are readily incorporated into web sites, educational packages and databases. The technique provides a rapid and user friendly method of presentation of a large body of information and measurements, and a reliable method of storage of the information from Copney should it become necessary to re-cover the site.

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