Course participants and tutor with survey equipment, the ruins of Fountains Abbey are in the background

Course tutor Paul Bryan explaining a survey technique at Fountains Abbey © Historic England
Course tutor Paul Bryan explaining a survey technique at Fountains Abbey © Historic England

Measured Survey for Cultural Heritage Summer School, dates tbc

Learn survey skills by taking part in our five day course amidst the historic surroundings of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Yorkshire, where expert tutors will introduce you to the theory and practice of measured survey and photographic techniques for recording heritage.



An arched stone bridge spanning a stream at Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire.
Bridge the gap in your knowledge in inspiring surroundings with our Summer School at Fountains Abbey © Historic England, Peter Williams, image reference DP044886

Who should attend?

The course is intended to introduce the disciplines of metric survey and photography for those already working in archaeology or buildings conservation who wish to develop an understanding of differing survey techniques.

Why you should join this course

  • Accurate and appropriate measured survey and imaging data is a fundamental requirement for the effective conservation, management and understanding of our cultural heritage.
  • Such data needs to be cost-effective and sensitive to the nature of the site and any interventions proposed.
  • An extensive array of measured survey techniques is available today, ranging from traditional hand-drawn survey through to total stations, 3D laser scanners and other advanced digital methods. Both survey practitioners and those procuring survey need to know the range of techniques available and understand their benefits and limitations in any given situation.
  • Instruction will be provided by professional tutors who have extensive experience in the use of both traditional and advanced methods of imaging, survey and graphics.

What you can take away from the course

At the end of the course, participants will have been introduced to:

  • The majority of measured survey techniques currently used in the recording of historic buildings and landscapes.
  • The application of photographic techniques to record cultural heritage.
  • Recent technical developments in this field of conservation.
A group of people with a staff for surveying
Our course will help you get your bearings with measured survey techniques: a surveying exercise at Fountains Abbey. © Historic England

Outline of sessions

The lessons plans for 2018 and the sessions outline below will give you a taster of what to expect.

Session 1: GNSS Survey

This session looks at the application of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) to archaeological/architectural survey: how we fix our location in space precisely and accurately onto a local coordinate system – the Ordnance Survey National Grid.

After a classroom introduction to the basic principles of GNSS, delegates will get hands-on experience of a range of Trimble GNSS equipment together with a critique of the different techniques and discussion of their limitations.

Delegates will learn how the different grades of GNSS equipment are best deployed: to establish control for archaeological survey and other complementary recording techniques; to record a variety of features in the field to create maps and plans, and to gather data for use in GIS systems. The day ends with a classroom session looking at downloading and integrating the data collected within a Geographic Information System (GIS).

Detail of hand-held survey equipment
Getting hands-on with Global Navigation Satellite Systems kit at the summer school. © Historic England

Session 2: Photography

The session will provide a basic introduction to architectural photography, concentrating on the techniques required to record buildings. This will be achieved through a series of lectures, demonstrations and practical hands-on experience.

Delegates will have the opportunity to use DSLR cameras with perspective control lenses and there will be practical sessions using wireless lighting techniques to illustrate how lighting can enhance the record of an interior.
There will also be the opportunity for delegates to use their own cameras on location.

The session will finish with a look at image processing using Photoshop where delegates will receive techniques, skills and advice on how to make the most of their images.

A group of people at Fountains Abbey gathered around a camera tripod
The session in photography underway at Fountains Abbey in 2016 © Historic England, Anna Bridson

Session 3: TST, Measured Survey and Rectified Photography

The session gives an introduction to some of the more accessible survey techniques. The fundamental principles of total station theodolite (TST) survey will be explained. Delegates will get hands-on experience of using a TST to create plans, sections and elevations. This will be supplemented with hand measured survey.

Techniques of hand drawing and subsequent integration into a CAD drawing will be taught throughout the day. The session will also examine the use of rectified photography both as a survey product its own right and as another route for completing the detail of a line drawing. Delegates will be encouraged to take the photographs, acquire the necessary control and will have the opportunity to rectify them using dedicated software.

By the end of the day the delegates should understand the different techniques and their limitations as well as where best to use them. It should also become clear that it is rare that just one technique will provide all the answers for a survey project.

A CAD section for an architectural detail at Fountains Abbey
A 1:50 scale CAD section for an architectural detail at Fountains Abbey © Historic England, Archive reference FON10M05

Session 4: Geospatial Imaging

This will provide a basic introduction to geospatial imaging techniques that typically supply the 3D point and image-based datasets that underpin measured surveys of cultural heritage sites, buildings and objects.

Specific reference will be made to:

  • Photogrammetry, both stereo and the increasingly popular multi-image Structure-from-Motion (SfM).
  • Laser Scanning, including static and mobile approaches.
  • Drones and Building Information Modelling (BIM).

As well as formal lecture based learning about the principles and heritage application of Geospatial Imaging techniques students will have the opportunity to apply SfM and laser scanning ‘in the field’ during demonstrations and hands on practical sessions.

An image of ruins at Fountains Abbey derived from geospatial survey techniques.
An image of ruins at Fountains Abbey derived from geospatial survey techniques. © Historic England

Meet the course tutors

Find out more about the tutors for this course from the document below.


A group of historic environment professionals gathered around a rugged laptop at Fountains Abbey.
Course Tutor Elaine Jamieson, of Reading University (front right) demonstrating a rugged laptop. © Historic England

Course fee and booking your place

The 2018 course has now been held. Booking details for 2019 to be confirmed.

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