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China and Scotland exchange digital conservation expertise

25 March 2013

Heritage experts from China and Scotland have been trading their knowledge and instigating closer cooperation over the past week as part of the Scottish Ten, the ground-breaking digital preservation project.

Delegates from the Chinese government’s historic environment  and cultural heritage bodies have been visiting Scotland to see how the Scottish Ten – a joint initiative by Historic Scotland, the  experts in 3D visualisation from The Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio and international non-profit organisation CyArk – is leading the world in digital scanning and conservation.

During the week they have been learning how Scotland is using the latest laser technology to record in great detail the country’s five World Heritage Sites along with five international heritage sites, and how this can aid conservation and interpretation and be used as an educational tool.

They had an opportunity to experience some of Scotland’s historic attractions such as Edinburgh and Stirling castles and the Forth Bridge as well three of Scotland’s five World Heritage Sites and how these are managed, cared for and promoted.

This visit stems from the Scottish Ten’s month-long laser scanning field trip in November 2012 to record China’s Eastern Qing Tombs – the third international site to be scanned. The data from this is currently being developed at the Digital Design Studio into 3D imagery and records which can be used to manage the site, and provide source material for remote access and educational programmes.

The Scottish Ten team worked closely with the delegation during the preparation and fieldwork phases of the project, and their visit will allow them to understand how the data is processed and how it can be used to best effect to conserve the heritage and fabric of the Tombs.

Lyn Wilson,  Scottish Ten’s Project Manager, said: “Both Scotland and China have significant amounts of experience in conservation and management of our historic environments. Therefore this visit will allow us to share ideas and knowledge and see where it can be done better and more effectively.

“We hope this visit will establish a long-standing partnership and greater joint working between the Scottish and Chinese heritage bodies particularly in the context of world heritage and digital conservation. We look forward to learning more from each other to the benefit of our respective historic environments.”

The Eastern Qing Tombs - in use from 1663 to 1908 - are the final resting place of some of China's best known emperors. The Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties were both designated as a World Heritage Site in 2000 - UNESCO describing it as a "masterpiece of human creative genius".

The Scottish Ten team focused on the site's most elaborate tomb, belonging to Xiao Ling, which was the first to be completed and exerted a profound influence on those that followed, and also recorded the Jingling Tomb of Emperor Kangxi, widely regarded as the greatest emperor of the Qing Dynasty.

In addition to the Tombs, scanning has already been carried out at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and Rani ki Vav in Gujarat, India. The Scottish Ten team will travel to Australia next month to scan the Sydney Opera House. The fifth international site has still to be announced.

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is internationally recognised as one of  Europe's foremost higher education institutions for creative education and research in fine art, design and architecture. The Digital Design Studio (DDS) is a world leading research and postgraduate centre of the GSA specialising in 3D digital visualisation and interaction technologies,. It combines academic, research and commercial activities. The experts at the Digital Design Studio are currently creating the 3D scans for the widely admired Scottish Ten as a partner in the CDDV. Other areas of DDS research include ground-breaking medical visualization, Marine Visualization and Auralisation and sound.

  • CyArk is a non-profit entity whose mission is to digitally preserve cultural heritage sites through collecting, archiving and providing open access to data created by laser scanning, digital modelling, and other state-of-the-art technologies. For more information visit

  • 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, inspiring our people and our visitors to celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty, landscapes and biodiversity as Scotland prepares to welcome the world in 2014 and beyond. Find out more about Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty at, and also ‘Scotland’s Protected Places’, which showcases together Scotland’s natural and historic treasures.

Historic Scotland around the web:

                                                        Year of Natural Scotland logo linking to

For further information

John MacNeil
Media Relations Manager
Communications and Media
0131 668 8714 or 07854 366 827