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Bentley conducts survey of Stonehenge

Bentley Systems has announced that its technology was used to visualise and analyse the most detailed laser scan survey ever conducted of Stonehenge.

The laser scan on one of the world’s oldest built environments with point spacing of 0.5 millimetres resulted in an enormous data resource of 850 gigabytes.

The use of Bentley Pointools enabled large datasets to be loaded, facilitating an examination of the full resolution data.

Bentley Pointools allowed carvings of Bronze Age axe heads and daggers that were invisible to the naked eye to be visualised

Richard Zambuni, Bentley
The software’s shading function was instrumental in visualising the most subtle features, which resulted in the discovery of 71 carvings of Bronze Age axes not seen in more than three thousand years.

Richard Zambuni, Bentley global marketing director, geospatial and utilities, said: “The powerful layering and shading functions in Bentley Pointools allowed carvings of Bronze Age axe heads and daggers that were invisible to the naked eye to be visualised and provided sub-millimetre accuracy to the archaeologists documenting Europe’s greatest Stone Age building.”

The task of further examining this Stonehenge was awarded to ArcHeritage, part of the York Archaeological Trust in the UK as part of a project commissioned by English Heritage.

Preliminary examination of the meshed models identified individual tool marks over 5,000 years old, but it was evident that the data contained more prehistoric artwork carved onto the surface of the stones.

The team decided to visualise the original point-cloud data and created a workflow using Bentley Pointools, which provides pre-processing of point clouds that empowers information mobility across project teams as well as all phases of the infrastructure lifecycle – from design through construction and operations.

“We needed a software solution that would handle and visualise vast quantities of survey data,” said Marcus Abbott, a member of the arc heritage geomatics and visualisation team. “Bentley Pointools is capable of loading both 3D mesh and point-cloud data. The discovery of unrecorded prehistoric rock art on the stones was first realised in Bentley Pointools.”

Karen McCandless

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