Situated in the scenic fields of Wensleydale, Middleham Castle was built in stages, beginning in 1190 – a year after Richard I took the English throne. It was the childhood home of Richard III and, briefly, a prison for King Edward IV. Today, though a ruin, it is still highly impressive and it remains a very popular tourist attraction. The castle – essentially a fortified palace – comprises the original 12th century Norman keep, a 13th century curtain wall, and a series of residential buildings added in the 15th century.
The monument is managed by English Heritage. In order to plan future conservation works, the organisation’s Survey Department decided to commission a UAV survey to assess the condition of the tops of the walls. SUAVE is listed on an English Heritage framework agreement and had previously done similar work on sites such as Stonehenge and Easby Abbey, so its track record made it a logical choice for the project.
Carried out in April 2016, the work involved aerial photography and capturing high definition video, both of which conservators will use to decide upon the need for conservation works. The constant changes in wall height and the sheer complexity of the castle layout made for challenging flights but as a specialist in the field, SUAVE completed the project without incident. Returning with the photographs and video, SUAVE then built a 3D model to verify that it had covered the whole extent of the site.