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Modelling from the past: the leaning southwest tower of Caerphilly castle 1539 – 2017

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Vasilis Sarhosis



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Caerphilly Castle (1268-70) is the first concentric castle in Britain and the second largest in the UK. The dramatic inclination of its ruinous south west tower has been noted since 1539. Comparing data from historical surveys and a terrestrial laser scan undertaken in 2015, this paper seeks to review evidence for the long-term stability of the tower. Digital documentation and archival research by architects is collated to provide data for structural analysis by engineers. A terrestrial laser scan was used to create a detailed three dimensional finite element model to enable structural analysis of the current shape of the tower made by tetrahedral elements. An automated strategy has been implemented for the transformation of the complex three dimensional point cloud into a three dimensional finite element model. Numerical analysis has been carried out aiming at understanding the main structural weaknesses of the tower in its present condition. Comparisons of four sets of data: 1539, 1830, 1870 and 2015 enabled us to determine change albeit between very different methods of measurement.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Prizeman OEC, Sarhosis V, D'alri AM, Whitman CJ, Muratore G

Editor(s): J. Hayes, C. Ouimet, M. Santana Quintero, S. Fai, and L. Smith

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Conference Name: 26th International CIPA Symposium – Digital Workflows for Heritage Conservation

Year of Conference: 2017

Pages: 221-227

Online publication date: 16/08/2017

Acceptance date: 16/08/2017

Publisher: ICOMOS/ISPRS International Scientific Committee on Heritage Documentation (CIPA)


DOI: 10.5194/isprs-annals-IV-2-W2-221-2017

Notes: ISPRS Ann. Photogramm. Remote Sens. Spatial Inf. Sci., IV-2/W2, 221-227, 2017