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Carvings appear on many of the stones at Stonehenge. Our study has focused upon three stones, known as Stone 3, Stone 4 and Stone 53.

Stone 3

Stone 3

The lower left part of the outer face of Stone 3 contains the carvings of three axe heads. These can be seen with the naked eye when close to the stone, and were easily picked up by the scanner.

This image is a raw display of the triangulated point cloud (the points collected by the scanner).

Stone 4

The greatest number of carvings on any one stone at Stonehenge is on the outer face of Stone 4. 

Above is the laser scan data as it first appears in our software before analysis. The millions of 3D measurements collected by the scanner have been triangulated into a surface so that the data may be visualised more effectively. Many axes are clearly distinguishable.

Work is currently underway to match the axes seen here on the scan to those recorded in 1953-4 by Robert Newal, and to explore the possibility that more unrecorded axes might be found.

The outlines of some of the axes are marked in the working image below

Stone 53

Stone 53 Plan

The section between the dashed line on the image to the left indicates the scanned area of Stone 53. The carvings marked in orange represent those recorded by Newall in his 1953-4 survey.

The carvings marked in blue are the first discovered from our research, using a Minolta VI-900 laser scanner. The data was processed using Demon, a dedicated piece of software developed by Archaeoptics.

Stone 53 - the laser scan

Stone 53 - the laser scan

This is a surfaced model of the data collected from Stone 53. The famous dagger and axe are clearly visible in the centre of the scan, and many of the other carvings shown on the plan are visible.

It is tinted to provide a clearer image. Click on the scan to view an enlargement.

Stone 53: The "New" carvings

Stone 53: The "New" carvings

An animation of the scanned area of Stone 53 was created. This consisted of a stationary model of the surface encircled by a light at an angle of about 30 degrees. The light rotates a full 360 degrees, thus highlighting every feature on the surface of the stone in stages.

The animation revealed some axe-like shapes in the area where there are no known carvings, according to previous studies. Attention was shifted to this area, and over the period of a few months, the images of two axes were extracted. The image below shows them both with interpretations of their shape.

Read the full article in the November 2003 issue of British Archaeology.

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