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Digital Visualisation Laboratory



Our Digital Visualisation Lab supports research, teaching, and commercial activities with a broad variety of digital methods and techniques within the Department of Archaeology, across Durham University, and externally. Our facilities enhance the teaching and learning experience of our students, offering them opportunities for practical experience using specialist equipment and software. They promote interdisciplinary research and reinforce the collaborative and international profiles of our archaeological research. Our facilities also support commercial activities, including consultancies, for heritage-related work, including conservation and interpretation.


Contract services:

For enquiries about commercial work, please contact or, using the buttons below.

Digital Visualisation Laboratory
Department of Archaeology, Durham University
Dawson Building
South Road

We also offer digital archaeological services led by our experienced staff. This includes rapid 3D scanning and reconstruction at different resolutions of artefacts, buildings and landscapes, and tailor-made training courses. 

Some of our recent commercial work includes:

  • 4D scan (high submillimetric resolution) of the Norman Chapel of Durham Castle, Durham World Heritage Site
  • 3D scan (laser scanning, photogrammetry and drones) of the interior and exterior of the St Mary the Less chapel, on the Bailey at the Durham World Heritage Site

St Mary the Less chapel scan
St Mary the Less chapel scan. Author: Alexander Jansen

  • RTI training courses (tailored, 1-full day) for the School of Archaeology & Ancient History, University of Leicester, UK, and ERA Arqueología, Lisbon, Portugal

Group of people in a laboratory discussing RTI capture.
RTI workshop at ERA Arqueología. Photo: Katina Lillios


The Digital Visualisation Lab supports a wide range of national and international projects with 3D scanning technologies working at multiple scales, from minute artefacts to monuments and rock art, buildings and landscapes. Projects also use our RTI and multispectral drone survey support (including infrared).

Projects include:

  • 'Belief in the North-East' (National Lottery Heritage Fund). PI: David Petts.
    • At Blanchland Abbey, we made an HD 3D scan of the organ (Sketchfab). In Mitford church, we recorded and 3D scanned old graffiti, to trace back potentially living relatives of soldiers that never returned after being send off to fight in WWII.
  • 'Lindisfarne: The search for the heart of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria' (2016-2026). PIs: David Petts and DigVentures
    • We conducted a multispectral NDVI drone survey of part of the island, using a drone with 6 cameras, each tuned to a different wavelength of light (including infrared). This allows us to calculate vegetation health, allowing for the detection of crop marks that cannot be seen with the naked eye (or normal ‘visible light’ RGB cameras), in order to gain a better understanding of the landscape of Lindisfarne in the past, and to detect underground architectural remains.
    •  A digitisation project of Lindisfarne sculpture, funded by DU Impact seedcorn funding, was conducted by DigVentures and in collaboration with English Heritage 'Etched in Stone' - a large-scale digitisation of Lindisfarne sculpture.

Aerial view of Holy Island of Lindisfarne, with a layer showing the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) of Lindisfarne.
Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) of Lindisfarne. Author: Alexander Jansen.


Key publications



The lab is also connected to our teaching, modules, and regular support to research in teaching.


  • 'Digital Visualisation: Applications for the Study of Prehistoric Art' (ARCH2221_2022 Advanced Skills in Archaeology).
  • '3D Imaging' (ARCH42315_2022, Practical Research and Study Skills).
  • ARCH43115, 'Data Science Applications in Archaeology and Heritage'.

Student conducting photogrammetry in the lab.
Photo: Alexander Jansen

Example of Undergraduate Dissertation

  • "Methods for interpreting the production of Iberian Late Bronze Age Stelae with particular reference to the stela of Bodonal de la Sierra and the Stela of Cañaveral de Léon: An examination of the intersection of creativity, experimental archaeology, and digital technology", by Amelia Holden. Supervisor: Marta Díaz-Guardamino.

Examples of Postgraduate (Taught) Dissertations

  • "3D Optical Profilometer: A new tool for analyzing peri-mortem trauma and post-mortem breakage", by Eloise Potter. Supervisors: Daniel Gaudio and Marta Díaz-Guardamino.

3-D Topographic Map of a post-mortem fracture on a femur, image: Eloise Potter, 2022.
3-D Topographic Map of a post-mortem fracture on a femur. Image: Eloise Potter, 2022.

  • "Digital Archaeology as a Tool of Engaging Public with Local Heritage: A Case Study of the Hero-Stones in Maharashtra", by Manasi Patil. Supervisor: Marta Díaz-Guardamino.
  • "Beyond the Cutting Edge: A comparative study of imaging techniques on Romano-British decapitation", by Euan Johns. Supervisors: Daniel Gaudio and Kori Lea Filípek
  • "Fingerprints on medieval cockspurs: An interdisciplinary approach to fingerprint analysis". Supervisor: Daniel Gaudio.
  • "Can Virtual spaces create engaging visitor experiences? An analytical approach". Supervisor: Mary Brooks.

PhD Dissertations

  • 2023, “Embodied Markings: Defining the embodied, liminal, and sensory character of the earliest Palaeolithic cave markings”, by Barbara Oosterwijk, supervised by Paul Pettitt, with the application of 3D modelling and decorrelation stretch.

El Castillo cave, small disks on drapery, Pilar Elefante, a 3D model created with decorrelated images
El Castillo cave, small disks on drapery, Pilar Elefante. 3D model created with decorrelated images. Author: Barbara Oosterwijk.

  • 2022, “The Origins of Visual Culture? Psychological Foundations of Upper Palaeolithic Figurative Cave Art in Northern Spain”, by Izzy Wisher, supervised by Paul Pettitt, with the application of 3D modelling and VR.


Other activities


  • Community archaeology 3D scanning workshops by Alexander Jansen ('Belief in the North-East' project)
  • RTI Workshop by Marta Díaz-Guardamino (MaVis RIG)
  • Photography workshops by Alexander Jansen (for staff and PDRA)
  • Photogrammetry workshops by Alexander Jansen (for staff and PDRA)

Sessions organised at conferences

  • CAA 2023 Amsterdam session 43: 'Synergies in 3D Spatial Analysis', by Alexander Jansen
  • CAA 2022 Oxford session 18: 'Exploring further the possibilities of 3D Spatial Analysis', by Alexander Jansen
  • CAA 2021 Cyprus session 25: 'Exploring the possibilities of 3D Spatial Analysis', by Alexander Jansen
  • EAA 2018, Barcelona, 'Human, Posthuman, Transhuman Digital Archaeologies', by Marta Diaz-Guardamino, Colleen Morgan, and Catherine Frieman


Digital Collections

Collections of student projects

For further enquiries contact: