Putting heritage in focus and helping to save west wall of St Mary's Parish Church
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
PEOPLE in Barnard Castle are picking up technological skills and learning more about history while helping a church bid for Heritage Lottery cash at the same time.
The west wall of St Mary’s Parish Church is under threat and about £300,000 is needed for vital repairs. Church treasurer Robert Stenlake says no one is sure what is causing a fracture in the wall but it might be the weight of the roof or pressure from the church tower.
He added: “It isn’t subsidence. The key thing is to sort out the west wall. What we want the grant for is it to stitch the wall together.”
Work is also needed to replace stonework around some of the windows that Richard III paid to have installed and which were last replaced during Victorian times.
The church has already made it through an initial round of its Lottery funding bid and has been granted £17,000 towards compiling its second round bid.
Mr Stenlake said community involvement in the heritage of the church is fundamental for the bid to be successful.
To achieve this they have teamed up with archaeological group DigVentures to present a project that will give people new skills and inform them more about the church’s heritage. About a dozen people attended an initial event at the church on Friday, January 4. Community archaeologist Johanna Ungemach, from DigVentures, said: “This is a pilot event to test the waters and to see what people in Barnard Castle want.”
During the event people learned more about photogrammetry, a system that stitches a group of photographs together to make a three dimensional model of an object. People were guided by DigVentures’ head of field archaeology, Chris Casswell, who helped as they took photographs of the church font, sarcophogi, gravestones and other features in and around the church.
Mr Casswell said: “We can take as many photos as we like of anything we like and turn it into a 3D model [using computer software].”
Ms Ungemach added: “By the end of the project we will put it all on a website then people all over the world can see the features of the church.
“People don’t know these things are in the church and they don't know what they mean. Some of the features are way up high and you can't see the inscriptions.”
She added that drones and cameras on poles would be used later to capture those out of reach objects and features.
A wide range of people enjoyed the session including Douglas May, a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.
He said: “ It is a fascinating technique to create 3D imagery. I am interested in how it makes you look at objects differently.”
Further events are planned. Visit digventures.com