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The University of Southampton
Archaeology Part of Humanities

Southampton archaeologists shed new light on the fabric of Winchester Cathedral

Published: 8 March 2013
The team working at the Cathedral

Archaeology PhD student James Miles has led a group of students in a project to use modern analytical technology to reveal fine detail and inscriptions on surfaces at Winchester Cathedral.

He hosted a community day to introduce Cathedral guides to a useful photographic technique using variable lighting, known as reflectance transformation imaging (RTI). Master’s students in the Archaeological Computing Research Group (ACRG) and lifelong learning students that have taken part in University evening classes used the technology to reveal new information about historic wall graffiti and the gravestones known as ledger stones, which have been used to pave corridors in the Cathedral for centuries. It followed an RTI masterclass by James and his colleagues Hembo Pagi, Nicole Beale and Gareth Beale.

“Through my PhD research I have discovered a wealth of available objects at the Cathedral that could be recorded,” says James. “We started by introducing everyone to the technique by highlighting the recent work that our research group has completed using RTI. Our volunteers then tried it out for themselves.”

Many graffiti scratchings were made and ledger stones laid at Winchester during the 17th century, just after the English Civil War. RTI techniques made the marks and inscriptions clearer and easier to read, often for the first time in living memory.

Southampton archaeologists Gareth Beale, Nicole Beale and historian Adam Chapman from History continue to work at the Cathedral on their Re-Reading the British Memorial project in collaboration with the Churches Conservation Trust and Wessex Archaeology. The ACRG has also received a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to develop RTI technology in archaeology.

Mathew and Marta capturing a RTI of some graffiti on the Gradiner Chantry
Capturing a RTI in the Cathedral
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