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3D Models of famous step well gifted to India

2 November 2012

Three-Dimensional animations and models from a Scottish-led digital preservation project of the centuries old Rani ki Vav Step Well have been gifted to the Indian people.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, presented the digital survey data and virtual animations captured by the Scottish Ten project to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) during a visit to New Delhi. (Links to the virtual animations can be found below.)

In 2011 a team from Scotland flew to Gujarat to spend two weeks working closely with heritage experts from the ASI to digitally preserve the ornately carved terraces of the step well using 3D laser scanners as part of the Scottish Ten project.

Rani ki Vav has seven terraced levels descending more than 20 metres into the ground, with each terrace decorated with multiple pillared pavilions and adorned with ornate and intricate sculptures of Hindu deities.

Dating from between 1022-1063 AD Rani ki Vav is also known as the Queen’s Step Well as it is believed it was commissioned by Queen Udayamati in memory of her late husband Bhimdev I.

Rani ki Vav is currently on the UNESCO Tentative World Heritage List which means that the World Heritage Committee will consider it for official World Heritage Site (WHS) designation. It is hoped that the Scottish Ten digital preservation project will contribute to the ASI’s bid for UNESCO WHS recognition for the site.

Despite the architectural and historic significance of Rani ki Vav, it is not widely known outwith India, and so it is also hoped that the Scottish Ten project will bring the site to a wider audience via virtual tours created from the 3D data.

Ms Hyslop said:

“Rani ki Vav is an incredibly stunning heritage site and the joint expertise of the Archaeological Survey of India and Scottish Ten team was invaluable in recording the intricate carvings and sheer scale of the step well.

“It is very important in our partnerships that both sides can learn from the expertise each has in managing and conserving such globally significant monuments and look at how this information can be used to best preserve and promote them now and in the future.

“I am delighted to be able to hand over the digital survey data and multimedia produced from the 3D scanning, including a virtual model that captures both the beauty and architectural wonder of this historic masterpiece, on behalf of the Scottish Ten team and the people of Scotland.”

The Scottish Ten - a partnership between conservation, heritage and digital preservation experts from Historic Scotland; specialists in 3D scanning and visualisation at the Digital Design Studio of The Glasgow School of Art, and non-profit digital heritage organisation CyArk -  is using cutting edge technology to digitally record all five of Scotland’s world heritage sites and five international sites.

Last week Ms Hyslop announced that the Sydney Opera House will be the fourth international site to be digitally scanned by the Scottish Ten team. This will allow unprecedented visual access to the Opera House and will supply information for use in maintenance and conservation programmes.

Amongst the many sites the Scottish Ten team has recorded are the presidential heads at Mount Rushmore in the United States; the standing stones, tombs and prehistoric village of Skara Brae that make up the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site and the island archipelago of St Kilda – the UK’s only dual cultural and natural World Heritage Site.

The team is now preparing to digitally survey the Eastern Qing Tombs, part of the Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties World Heritage Site in Beijing.

The Scottish Ten initiative showcases how Scotland is using the latest digital documentation and visualisation technology to create a digital archive of sites that will support their conservation and provide virtual access.

Through these initiatives, Historic Scotland is promoting Scottish innovation around the world, co-ordinating all Scottish Ten site work and improving international relationships.

The animation resulting from the scanned data of the Step Well can be downloaded in the following languages:


To find out more visit you can also follow the project’s progress on

Notes to editors

  • 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

  • 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 5-year project will digitally record the five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Scotland and five international sites.

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  • 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:

  • 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

                                                  Year of Creative Scotland 2012

For further information

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