3D Scanning the West Yorkshire Hoard


We love a good challenge here at Leeds Museums and Galleries and currently we’re looking into 3D scanning technology to develop 3D data models of objects in the West Yorkshire Hoard, a small group of Anglo-Saxon gold rings and other items found in the Leeds area.
One of the objects found from the hoard include this stunning, unusually large 10th Century gold ring with a round decorated bezel (pictured below).
This 10th Century gold ring is part of the
West Yorkshire Hoard 
For conservation reasons, the items from the West Yorkshire Hoard cannot be scanned the same way as other objects; usually a fine powder is applied to gold to stop the light reflecting during scanning. Because the objects are so precious, putting any sort of coating on the items risks leaving a residue, particularly on the objects that are very highly decorated.
So how do we digitally preserve these objects without damaging them?
Last week, Curator Kat Baxter and Digital Media Assistant Liz Chadwick went to Crewe for the day to check out the latest in small scanning technology.
Three different types of scanning technologies were identified, including this infra-red laser that scans at 458000 points per second at a resolution of 5 microns (One micron is 1/1000 mm (1/25,000 of an inch).
In order to achieve the perfect scan, the object needs to be able to rotate 360 degrees so the laser can pick up all the information.
These items are over a thousand years old; the arms usually used to do this could potentially harm the surface of the objects, so Europac are developing a special arm for Leeds Museums and Galleries to use which will be both stable enough to rotate the objects securely but padded so as not to damage their delicate surface.
The next stage is to come back to Europac once the arm has been developed and to scan all the objects properly. We will keep you updated on the progress!
By Elizabeth Chadwick, Digital Media Assistant

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