Imaging the Tintagel early medieval inscribed slate

English Heritage have just announced the important and rare discovery of an early medieval stone inscribed with writing, dating from the 7th century.  I was called in by Cornwall Archaeological Unit, who discovered the stone in the summer of 2017, to help enhance the inscriptions.

Some of the writing is very faint, and so rather than the usual technique of using 3D capture (close range laser scanning or photogrammetry), I opted to use Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) to obtain our best chance of reading all of the letters.

The results were fantastic, and I was lucky enough to be perhaps the first to read some personal names from 1,300 years ago, as I processed the data from my home office.

There have been many calls via Twitter to see more of the enhanced images, so here they are (released under a Creative Commons attribution non-commercial license) with thanks to Professor Michelle Brown who conducted the interpretation and final transcription.

Enhanced image of the inscription
tito
vi.ri. duo
Æ(D A?) fili 
Enhanced version of the inscription
bue dic
tu Δ/D A

There’s a great article on the Guardian which describes the Tintagel excavations and the significance of the discovery in more detail.

Digitisation Studio

I’ve always enjoyed digitising things – 3D scanning, 2D scanning, extracting scratchy audio from 1/4″ reel-to-reel tape, resurrecting a Betamax machine to transfer long-forgotten clips into modern archivable digital formals, turned oral history recordings on cassette into mp3, you name it. I have scanned and catalogued more photos than I can count.

Finally, I now have the space for my own digitisation studio, which I have begun to construct. It currently consists of a sturdy copy stand with LED lighting, Canon DSLR, Epson scanner, and a decent TEAC cassette deck. There is a trusty Mac sitting at the centre of it for control, capture and editing, as well as a Soundcraft mixing desk for audio input. Coming soon is a turntable (with 78rpm stylus) and an ex-studio VHS machine. On the wish list is a Betamax player.

The copy stand, as well as useful for capturing larger and more fragile items, also allows for me to have a Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) rig set up for the surface capture of small artefacts. My recent FTTP (direct fibre-optic) internet connection allows for fast transfer of very large digital files quickly.

More details soon on my full capabilities.