3D laser scanning for heritage & preservation

We capture cultural heritage sites & artefacts using 3D laser scanning. Generating precise data for digital archiving, building restoration, and virtual tourism.


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Our heritage 3D solutions

3D scanning a heritage site for preservation efforts

3D laser scanning for cultural site preservation

Safely gather detailed 3D information of historical buildings and monuments with minimal disruption. Our service creates comprehensive as-is records in the absence of original plans, facilitates restoration works, and allows swift documentation of new archaeological findings.

virtual heritage assets

Digital heritage & virtual tourism

Our 3D scan data can be used to produce diverse physical and digital deliverables. From immersive virtual walkthroughs to full-colour scale models and installations, these assets are effective for education and make places of cultural significance accessible from anywhere in the world. 

archiving cultural artifacts

Capture smaller artefacts with metrology-scanning

We digitise smaller relics such as pottery, coins, and medals with our high-resolution handheld scanners. This enables the development of 3D digital libraries and realistic replicas. Having a true-to-life 3D model may prove invaluable for insurance purposes in the event of loss or vandalism.

Common heritage sites we 3D scan

Rapid data capture for historical structures of any shape and scale. We can scan internally and externally to ensure that you receive every detail you require.

These cultural sites include...

Heritage site preservation with 3D laser scanning

As-is heritage documentation

As-is heritage documentation

Gather full-field 3D data of a heritage site in its existing condition. This could be part of a disaster recovery plan in case of future damage, used for facilities management, or for archiving new archaeological findings.

Perhaps you need us to 3D laser scan a church to generate a clean point cloud, or to provide a watertight 3D mesh for a deteriorating Roman fort. Our engineers can deliver elevation drawings, sections, roof and floor plans, or whatever output your project needs.

Project teams can collaborate remotely, using the digital copy to visualise and inspect a site. This removes the cost, time, and disruption associated with in-person visits.

terrestrial scanning for old buildings
remains of a deteriorating fortress

Accurately record fragile structures

Planning heritage restoration

Planning heritage restoration

planning repairs on a heritage building

3D scanning plays a pivotal role in the upkeep and renovation of historical buildings. Preserve aesthetic integrity and conduct detailed spatial analysis.

Working from a dimensionally accurate 3D model allows for thorough planning for construction, redesign, or new additions. This could involve anything from scanning a statue or windmill, to deformed wall sections at a derelict manor house.

In certain cases, worn areas can be repaired digitally to reduce contact and the risk of further damage. Replacement material can then be manufactured and fitted to the original.

Our 3D printing service is an easy way to produce prototypes. 

Heritage deformation monitoring & structural analysis

Heritage deformation monitoring & structural analysis

Perform extensive structural analysis to identify potential hazards at a cultural site and address them before they become a bigger issue. 3D laser scanners can detect small signs of deterioration that may be invisible to the human eye.

Laser scan ageing architecture such as a palace façade or medieval bridge to monitor condition changes over time. Measure movement and decay caused by weather, erosion, or pollution. We also provide solutions for tracking progress at an excavation site.

Several tasks can be completed with the 3D model including line of sight analysis, flood risk analysis, elevation exaggeration, and creation of virtual light shadow maps.

Assess historical infrastructure for signs of weakness

using a 3D laser scanner for structural analysis of a royal house

Scanning architectural features

These time-honoured locations often boast unusual design elements that can be hard to measure with traditional methods. Our scans record these dimensions with millimetre accuracy, preserving their distinct character.

Heritage Building Information Modelling (HBIM)

Heritage Building Information Modelling (HBIM)

Heritage Building Information Modelling (HBIM) is a specialized methodology designed for capturing and managing extensive details about heritage buildings, focusing on their construction, use, and evolution over time. Autodesk Revit is often the software of choice for HBIM.

The implementation of HBIM in the preservation and restoration of heritage buildings provides significant benefits, including precise documentation of a building’s structure and architectural details. This precision fosters a deeper understanding of the building’s historical evolution, supporting more informed preservation and restoration decisions.

Moreover, HBIM enhances the efficiency of planning and managing restoration projects, leading to reductions in both cost and time. It also ensures that the conservation of heritage buildings is harmoniously integrated with modern functionality and needs, promoting their sustainability for future generations.

Heritage Building Information Modelling
Create 3D point cloud of Tudor house

Maintain cultural sites


Data obtained during the heritage 3D scanning process can be converted into a wide variety of outputs.

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Custom deliverables are available on request, get in touch for more information.

Ready for your cultural heritage scanning quote?

Fill in this form to receive a free, no-obligation quotation. Please attach images of the site that you need scanned so that we can provide an accurate price estimate. 

Digital heritage & education

Virtual tourism

3D laser scanning presents the opportunity to create a selection of powerful digital heritage assets. These encompass immersive virtual and augmented reality experiences, online exhibitions, and digital spaces from both first-person and third-person perspectives.

This allows universal access to historically important sites, effectively unlocking an endless stream of visitors who might have been barred by geographical or personal constraints, such as disabilities. For example, our technology could scan wall carvings in an isolated cave area.

Interactive 3D deliverables also serve dual purposes in marketing: they enrich promotional content and bolster social media presence, while also playing a crucial role in presentations designed to attract potential sponsors.

3D virtual walkthrough
mapping out a museum exhibition

Museums & visitor experience

Museum curators can use our data to aid the development of new exhibits. Having exact spatial dimensions grants the ability to order bespoke fittings and installations, while avoiding any potential clashes or overlaps.

With your 3D model, generate dynamic displays that enhance visitor engagement. Think touchscreens in visitor centres to explain key information in a visual format.

Terrestrial laser scanning is a crucial first step in projection mapping. With these measurements, transform heritage buildings or exhibition spaces into unique canvases, onto which you can design and project stunning visuals.

Education and research

Precise 3D models enable global collaborative research, providing standardized data for scholarly analysis and interpretation. As well as buildings, laser scanners can capture distinctive outdoor structures like henges and stone circles.

Create animated reconstructions and simulations, vividly depicting historical sites as they once were. They highlight changes over time and the interaction between structures and their environments, offering a vivid glimpse into the past.

Furthermore, these models enable the fabrication of tactile replicas, fostering hands-on learning experiences in classrooms and events. It converts abstract history into a tangible experience.

hands-on cultural heritage learning

Laser scanning
religious buildings

We scan subjects from all points in history, from prehistoric sites to Baroque, Gothic, Neolithic, Tudor, and Victorian buildings.

Laser scanning a monastery

What our customers say...

Metrology-scanning for smaller artefacts

Our handheld scanners capture smaller cultural artefacts with up to 0.02 mm accuracy. We produce high-resolution 3D models, CAD files, and also offer full-colour and texture scans.

Examples of the artefacts we scan…

Non-destructive artefact 3D scanning

We employ state-of-the-art scanners to ensure that you receive the highest-quality heritage 3D data possible.

What to expect

We evaluate each object before scanning to determine the best strategy.

Certain items will require target markers, 3D scanning spray, or specialist jigs to guarantee optimal results. 

We then use our non-contact, non-destructive scanning equipment to collect precise data.

Lastly, the resulting point cloud can be converted into an editable CAD file during post-processing. 

Read more about our 3D scanning process. 

Our usual turnaround time is 1-2 weeks. This may vary depending on whether you require scan data only, an auto-surfaced model, or a parametric model.

Reverse engineering and additional services can also extend the time frame. 

If you have a strict deadline, let us know and we’ll work to find a solution. 

Raw scan data gives you a triangled mesh of your object devoid of any colour or texture. It contains all defects of the scanned items and any ‘noise’ the scan has picked up.

A CAD file permits the repair and refinement of this data, which is necessary for tasks like reverse engineering, prototyping, and producing parts in as-new condition. It’s also useful if you wish to modify the design and experiment with various aesthetics.

Auto-Surfaced Model

  • CAD compatible
  • Accurate representation of object’s exact geometry
  • Retains defects
  • Quicker turnaround
  • Cost-Effective

Parametric Model

  • CAD compatible
  • Flawless 3D model, replicating original design intent
  • Defects repaired
  • Slower turnaround
  • Higher cost
conserving historic items

Why 3D scan a heritage item?

The data is vital for the preservation and restoration of prized historic objects. Implement 3D digital archiving, manufacture authentic physical copies, and uncover previously overlooked archaeological features.

I have worked with Surface Scan on a number of occasions to produce 3D scans of items from British military history which date back over 100 years. The service they provided was first class and the finished product was exactly what we required to record items of historical value for future generations.

Bruce McKay MBE

The Royal Gurkha Rifles

british army logo

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