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Digital expertise is a powerful hallmark of Scotland’s past and future

30 October 2012

          Ms Hyslop with Opera House trustee Bob Leece at the DigiDoc conference in Edinburgh

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, comments on the announcement that Sydney Opera House has been chosen as the next Scottish Ten site.

My announcement last week that the Scottish Ten team would soon be heading to Australia to digitally scan the Sydney Opera House, one of the world’s most iconic buildings, shows just how far Scotland’s reputation for cultural and scientific expertise extends.

It builds on a proud tradition of scientific advancement, and encapsulates an appreciation of history founded on the unique built heritage for which Scotland is known around the world.

Sydney Opera House was unveiled as the fourth international site in the Scottish Ten project at the DigiDoc conference in Edinburgh on October 22nd. This remarkable building will ultimately join Scotland’s five World Heritage Sites and four others of international importance to create an unrivalled digital archive.

Digital laser scanning technology can contribute greatly to the way in which we record, understand and interpret our built heritage, in a level of detail that has never been possible before.

It can offer virtual 3D visits to sites where public access is sensitive or restricted, and because laser scans cover the entire structure, parts of buildings normally inaccessible such as high walls, ceilings or roofs, can be viewed online by everyone.

So we can reap the rewards of this fantastic technology now, in numerous ways, while also creating a digital archive for the benefit of future generations.

In Australia, the Sydney Opera House will present entirely new challenges for the Scottish Ten team. They have already completed vast and complex challenges at places such as Mount Rushmore in the USA, and Rani ki Vav, the Queen’s Step Well in India.

This is by far the most modern building to be included in the Scottish Ten project, and contrasts starkly with the castles, mills, tombs and sculptures which have come before it and will develop the team’s expertise and skills even further.

Those skills have also shown how effective partnerships can enhance progress. The Scottish Ten team comprises experts from Historic Scotland and Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio, as well as CyArk, the US-based digital heritage organisation which has just opened a branch in Europe.

The combined talents of all involved, and the global reach of the Scottish Ten project, are integral to its success, and also help to showcase Scotland’s outward looking ambition.

Announcements like these reinforce Scotland’s global reputation. We are already known as a dynamic and energised nation, with a highly-educated workforce, a message that will be reflected in my visit to India this week, when I hand over Scottish Ten data collected during the scanning of Rani ki Vav .

This fascinating site is an outstanding example of a Royal Step Well, located near Patan. It was built around 1000AD and effectively lost until its rediscovery in the 1950s. Rani ki Vav comprises numerous sculpted terraces descending through more than 27 metres, each adorned with elaborate representations of Hindu deities.

The Scottish Ten scans created a 3D digital archive of this cultural treasure, and will assist with future conservation plans, as well as virtually bringing the site to a much wider audience online, and raising its profile locally and internationally.

The Scottish Ten will then continue on to China in November where the team are set to record the Eastern Qing Tombs, in partnership with the Government of the People’s Republic. This site, near Beijing, is an imperial mausoleum complex and resting place for some of China’s best known emperors, and our presence there will again reflect the esteem in which the project is held internationally.

The Scottish Ten is a truly outstanding achievement for Scotland. It says much about our nation’s pedigree, and heritage. We are an inventive, outward-looking nation, and this project shows that we are open for business on the world stage.

We are also a friendly and welcoming country, and the co-operation the Scottish Ten has received from nations as varied as the United States, India, Australia and China is testament to our good reputation globally.

As we look to the future, we can be confident that projects such as the Scottish Ten will continue to enhance Scotland’s international reputation, and ensure our place at the forefront of a rapidly changing world.

Photo caption
Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, announced last week that Sydney Opera House would be the next international site to be scanned as part of the Scottish Ten project. Ms Hyslop is pictured at the DigiDoc conference in Edinburgh, where she made the announcement, with Opera House trustee Bob Leece.

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. Follow us on Twitter @welovehistory and Facebook www.facebook.com/visithistoricscotland

  • 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 and marine visualization, and auralisation and sound. www.gsa.ac.uk/research/research-centres/digital-design-studio

  • 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 www.archive.cyark.org

  • The Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation, a partnership between Historic Scotland and The Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio, was created by the Scottish Government to carry out the Scottish Ten project. This ambitious five-year project will digitally record the five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Scotland and five international sites. For more information, visit www.scottishten.org




  • The Year of Creative Scotland began on January 1, 2012 and will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. More information about the programme can be found at: www.visitscotland.com/creative

  • The Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL. More information and resources to help businesses engage with Year of Creative Scotland are available at  www.visitscotland.org/yearofcreativescotland-toolkit

                                                         Year of Creative Scotland 2012

For further information


David Gray
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8588 or 07854 366 805
david.gray@scotland.gsi.gov.uk