West Yorkshire Hoard

3D modelling and a touchscreen gives visitors a detailed, close-up view of seven precious items that are far too delicate and valuable to be handled.
The hoard was discovered in September 2008 by a metal detectorist working alone in a field just outside Leeds. This exciting discovery – seven items of jewellery and other precious items dating back to the 7th and 11th centuries and in remarkably good condition – was acquired by Leeds Museums and Galleries in 2012 after going through the Treasure process.

To keep the hoard in Leeds funding was sought from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation), The Headley Trust, Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, Friends of Leeds City Museums, and The Goldsmiths’ Company, as well as generous donations from local societies and the public. Thanks to this funding, the hoard is now permanently housed in the Leeds City Museum.
Despite their exceptional condition, of course, the items are far too valuable and delicate to withstand handling by the public. So the challenge has been to find a way to allow visitors a close-up view of the fine detail of the items.

The answer has been in 3D modelling. Working with experts in scanning technology we identified the best equipment to use for this task. The shiny surface of the gold items bounces light making scanning a challenging task so it is important that we use the most suitable kit for the job.
Visitors can use a touchscreen to explore each item, turning and hugely enlarging it to get a detailed view of decorative features such as the cross and vines that suggest one ring might have once belonged to a bishop. Explanatory panels appear on the display to highlight elements that are of particular interest.
Katherine Baxter, Curator of Archaeology said, “Scanning and modelling the items from the hoard has been an incredibly exciting process for us. As curators we are privileged to work closely with these beautiful items, but to be able to share the intricacy and craftsmanship of them with our visitors is really special. The results are impressive, and we’re sure that our visitors will really enjoy exploring the hoard in its entirety.”

Images © Leeds Museums & Galleries