The Govan stones revealed: digital imaging in the analysis of early medieval sculpture

Kasten, Megan Nichole (2019) The Govan stones revealed: digital imaging in the analysis of early medieval sculpture. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This work explores the utility of digital imaging techniques as research tools in the study of early medieval carved stones. Often three-dimensional imaging is seen primarily as a means of recording an object for preservation, illustration or outreach. The approaches developed here use these digital resources to gain a new perspective on the carving of the stones to address questions relating to the presence or absence of a ‘Govan school’.
The terms ‘Strathclyde Style’ or ‘Govan School of Carving’ are used as a convenient shorthand to describe the 9th-11th century carved stones in the Strathclyde area; however, it has also been suggested that the traits shared by these monuments indicate that the carvers were either trained in or worked in a centralised location. The thesis presented here provides a new perspective on these questions through a digital lens.
The thirty-one carved stones housed at Govan Old have experienced varying degrees of wear. Three-dimensional imaging and Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) were instrumental in recovering worn patterns on many of the stones. This has led to the recognition of several trends in the Govan collection that had been previously overlooked. These digital techniques were also used to determine whether templates had been employed in the replication of figures, which could indicate that tools were shared by members of a single workshop. Finally, Kitzler Åhfeldt’s Groove Analysis was applied to the 3D models to identify the carving ‘signatures’ of individual carvers. These strands of research were then considered together to determine whether a centralised school or workshop is likely to have been connected to Govan.
This research demonstrates that digital imaging techniques are invaluable research tools; their flexible and infinitely replicable nature offer new insights into carved stone that would be otherwise untenable. While these applications are by no means restricted to stone in the early medieval period, the digital corpus of the Govan collection presented here demonstrates that these new avenues of investigation facilitate new analyses from which all early medieval sculpture in Scotland would benefit.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: 3-D, photogrammetry, RTI, early medieval sculpture, Govan, research.
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NB Sculpture
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Supervisor's Name: Driscoll, Prof. Stephen T. and Jeffrey, Dr. Stuart
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Dr Megan N Kasten
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-74266
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2019 14:04
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2022 12:28
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.74266

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