Glasgow & West Scotland

Scots team to record China's Eastern Qing Tombs

The Eastern Qing Tombs
Image caption The Scots team will survey the Eastern Qing Tombs next year

A team of Scottish experts has been enlisted to digitally record one of China's most important heritage sites.

Members will begin work next year at the Eastern Qing Tombs, which are the resting place of famous emperors.

They will use 3D imaging to create archival records which can be used to monitor the site, or for remote access or educational purposes.

The work will be carried out by the Scottish 10 project, led by Historic Scotland and Glasgow School of Art.

The joint venture aims to digitally document all five of Scotland's world heritage sites and five international sites - the first being the Presidents Heads at Mount Rushmore in the United States of America.

'Cutting edge'

A delegation will travel to The Eastern Qing Tombs, which were in use from 1666 to 1911, during 2012.

The announcement was made by the First Minister at the opening of the Digital Documentation Conference, which welcomed an international delegation to Glasgow to look at fostering collaboration on the use of 3D technology and digital imaging.

First Minister Alex Salmond announced the venture at the opening of a digital documentation conference in Glasgow.

He said: "This cutting edge technology has already been used to scan St Kilda, New Lanark and Neolithic Orkney in Scotland and Mount Rushmore in the United States with work also underway to capture the Queen's Stepwell - or Rani Ki Vav - in India.

‪"We have been working closely with the Chinese government to identify a suitable location for some time and I am delighted to be able to announce today that a team will be going out to the Eastern Qing Tombs next year to begin capturing this truly spectacular site.

‪"These tombs - the resting place for some of China's most famous emperors - will complement the rest of the Scottish 10's portfolio, and we are confident this work will help our Chinese partners maintain and enhance understanding of this hugely impressive heritage site."

David Mitchell, head of conservation for Historic Scotland, said it was a "huge privilege" to be allowed to digitally record the Chinese site.

"Each site in the Scottish 10 project poses unique challenges in terms of the terrain, climate and geography of the site.

Elaborate tomb

"Having experienced extremes of both temperature and climate as well as the logistics of conducting laser scanning several hundred feet up in previous projects, our team are well versed to operating in different climates.

"We are very much looking forward to working with our Chinese partners on the site."

The team plans to focus on one of the site's most famous tombs - that of Xiao Ling.

The tomb was the first to be built and is the biggest and most elaborate on the site and influenced the style of those that followed.

They will also be recording the Jingling Tomb of Emperor Kangxi, often regarded as the greatest Emperor of the Qing Dynasty.

It is anticipated that the team will be on site for two weeks to digitally record the tombs and plans are already underway for the trip.

Doug Pritchard, head of visualisation at Glasgow School of Art said: "The technology can record these sites in a detail never achieved before.

"There are numerous benefits to this from learning more about how a building was constructed through to being able to decipher inscriptions and markings which reveal more about a buildings past.

"These buildings were built at a time of great change in China and have the potential to tell us much more about this fascinating period in time."

The first minister also announced that Scotland will be the first country in the world to digitally document its national collection of monuments in 3D.

Historic Scotland will undertake the project to digitally document all 345 sites in 3D and make this information available to the public.

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