Shadow marks

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Kite aerial photo of the site of Ogilface Castle, Woodend, West Lothian in low sunlight

Shadow marks are a form of archaeological feature visible from the air. Unlike cropmarks, frost marks and soil marks they require upstanding features to work and are therefore more commonly seen in the context of extant sites rather than previously undiscovered buried ones.

They are caused by the differences in height on the ground produced by archaeological remains. In the case of ancient, eroded earthworks these differences are often small and they are most apparent when viewed from the air, when the sun is low in the sky. This causes long shadows to be cast by the higher features, which are illuminated from one side by the sun, with dark shadows marking hollows and depressions.

Shadow marks are best viewed obliquely rather than from directly above in order to emphasise the effect of the shadows.

Artificial shadow marks can be created easily by constructing a virtual 3D model[1] of a site by merging aerial images (pole, kite etc.) and then vectoring in a virtual light source. Such an applied lighting can be animated.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "3D Kite aerial photography and other techniques.". Retrieved 2012-12-05. 
  2. ^ "Animated virtual 3D model of St. Ninian's Chapel, Bute.". Retrieved 2012-12-05. 

External links[edit]