Visualising the Crucible of Shetland’s Broch Building

A collaborative partnership between the University of Bradford, Historic Environment Scotland and Shetland Amenity Trust has concentrated on the digital documentation of three archaeological sites on Shetland that collectively form type. The iconic drystone architecture of the broch sites at Mousa, Jarlshof and Old Scatness collectively form a Tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whilst excavated at different time-periods, records from the University of Bradford-led excavations at Old Scatness provide detailed understanding of this form of construction. The development of an iBook resource that showcases engaging content to highlight the significance of these cultural heritage sites within their natural heritage setting was highly commended in the ‘Research Awards’ category for the Learning Technologist of the Year Awards in 2020. 

This project was funded as an AHRC collaborative doctoral partnership awarded to Li Sou.

Point cloud presents a plan view cross-section through the broch of Mousa, highlighting the great thickness of its ground floor solid wall. Three large “rooms” can be seen built directly into the wall, and the hearth and water tank are visible in the central area of the building, which had been reworked and adjusted in the Late Iron Age. The staircase leading up to the upper floors is seen to the bottom right, within its own gallery.
This colourised point cloud was produced using the onboard cameras of the terrestrial laser scanners during the 2017 and 2018 surveys of Mousa. It shows, through a partially transparent view, the layout of the different structures within the drystone tower of Mousa. The “beehive” shaped ceilings of the ground floor cells are particularly clear, as are some of the ruined stonework of extramural Iron Age structures outside of the broch entrance, to the left side of the image.