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10.01.08
Penryn student recreates Cornwall's past

Local student Adam Spring is changing the way we see Cornwall's history. Originally from Penryn and now studying for a PhD with the University of Exeter on the Tremough Campus, Adam is using high definition scanning to produce digital recreations of heritage sites.

Adam's PhD focuses on developing ways of using laser scanning techniques in archaeology. He has created scans of several sites in Cornwall, including the Rialton Stone in the Royal Cornwall Museum, the Mabe Cross, Rough Tor, Bodmin and sections of the Gwithian coastline. These scans provide lasting records of these unique sites, helping to preserve Cornwall's history.

Adam grew up in Penryn before moving away to study Archaeology at Bristol University, where he achieved an undergraduate and masters degree. He moved back to Cornwall in 2005 and is now studying part-time so he can earn money to fund his PhD. He is hoping to get external funding to support his studies and achieve his aim of completing his PhD within three years.

Adam Spring said: "My decision to move back to Cornwall to study was purely by chance. My Mum died of oesophageal cancer when I was 21 and I was left with our council home in Penryn. After juggling my studies at Bristol University with my responsibilities at home, I decided to return to Cornwall for my PhD. Growing up in a very poor area throughout the 1980s I wanted to use my skills and my contact base to help the University's Tremough Campus influence regeneration."

High definition scanning is used for surveying buildings and for assessing quarries and geological structures. Sometimes called a 'cloud scanner', a high definition scanner captures images of parts of a building or object, enabling the user to create a highly detailed 3-D computer-based image. Recently, archaeologists and historians have started to use the same techniques for developing detailed, 3D digital replicas of sites and monuments. Mid range laser scanning has been around for 10 years and allows the user to capture sites in real time. This means the technology can be used on sites hazardous to humans, such as war sites or areas of contamination, as well as assessing coastal erosion or monitoring earthquakes. When the Twin Towers fell in 2001 the predecessor to the machine Adam uses, the Cyrax 2500, was used to scan the site. Laser scanning was also used on the London Underground to assess the damage caused by the bombings in July 2005.

Adam Spring continued: "Previous degree and master's work on early Christian landscapes in Cornwall drew me to work with inscribed stones at Mabe and Truro. This then moved onto monuments like the BassettMonument at Carn Brea and Wheal Unity Engine House, Chasewater. I find mid range laser scanning fascinating because for the first time it allows archaeologists to work with information that is captured in real time. The applications and potential for mid range laser scanning is also wide ranging. Since working with the cloud scanner I am as comfortable talking to people in the forensics, oil, architectural and mining industries as I am fellow archaeologists."

As well as scanning sites in Cornwall, Adam spent much of July to November abroad. After finishing fieldwork in Albania, he went to Athens to give a presentation at a conference, then met with scanning experts in California from the Getty Museum and University California Berkeley, as well as meeting with the inventor of the 'cloud scanner'.

The £100 million Tremough Campus is a Combined Universities in Cornwall initiative ­of which the University of Exeter and University College Falmouth are two of the founding partners. It is funded mainly by the European Union (Objective One), the South West Regional Development Agency, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, with support from Cornwall County Council. Set in 70 acres of countryside, but close to the waterside towns of Penryn and Falmouth, the campus offers a lively student community. The University of Exeter now offers degrees in Biology, Modern Celtic and Cornish Studies, English, Geology, Geography, History, Law, Mining Engineering, Politics and Renewable Energy on its Tremough Campus, which has expanded rapidly as part of the Combined Universities in Cornwall initiative.

For further information please contact Sarah Hoyle, Press Officer, University of Exeter, on 01392 262062/07989 446920 or email s.hoyle@exeter.ac.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) project, both Phase 1 and Phase 2, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). University of Exeter is a partner of the CUC.

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Editor's notes:

 

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
The Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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