In recent years, we have used UAVs to inspect and photograph a wide range of ancient monuments and heritage buildings – everything from Stonehenge to castles and stately homes. However, one of the services we are most often called upon to deliver involves wall-top inspections.
Many castles and similar structures have lost their roofs over the years, so the tops of walls are left exposed and unprotected. Frost damage and the growth of plants (and even small trees) can then cause damage to the upper parts of the remaining walls. This poses a problem for those responsible for their maintenance, because they are often very difficult to access and inspect.
The introduction of drone-based photography and video has offered such professionals an important new tool and, in recent years, this has become a regular feature of our work. One such project took place at Easby Abbey in North Yorkshire.
The abbey was founded in 1152 and operated for nearly four centuries, until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. When it was abandoned in 1536, it fell quickly into ruin, although it remained a striking location that has inspired visitors and painters ever since.
Here, the Estates Department of English Heritage, which maintains the property, asked us to produce a detailed photographic record of the wall-tops. This we did, and from the photos we built our own 3D model, predominantly to verify that we had secured all the images we needed and the necessary degree of overlap. We supplied the photographs to English Heritage, which then built its own model for maintenance planning and record-keeping.
More information and photos of Easby Abbey can be found on the English Heritage website: