Landscape applications of photogrammetry using unmanned aerial vehicles

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Photogrammetry is quickly becoming an important, cost effective technique for recording cultural heritage. Beyond the micro-scale of site evaluation, however, there are also effective landscape applications, with drone-based image collection allowing for large-scale survey. This combination of highly portable technology, which is not fully automated, can be used to create accurate and dense three-dimensional models at a fraction of the cost of LiDAR, and often at a much high spatial resolution. Yet, despite this, few studies have assessed the viability of this technique in regard to landscape studies. Those that have, such as Muñoz-Nieto et al. (2014), highlight the effectiveness of this technique and its ease of use. This paper assesses the viability of this technology for mapping large archaeological sites such as hillforts, providing a case study for its application to landscape archaeology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-44
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Early online date18 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

The author would like to thank the various colleagues who read early drafts of this paper, as well as the two anonymous reviewers whose comments and suggests helped to improve and focus the final paper. I would also like to thank the Royal Irish Academy and the Leverhulme funded Comparative Kingship Project for support.

Funding Information:
Survey of the site was funded by a Royal Irish Academy grant which aimed to record in detail the Western Stone Forts on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Ireland. In total, 166 geo-tagged aerial images were captured, resulting in the generation of a DSM and orthomosaic 11.69 ha in size ( ). This took approximately 17 min to collect in-field. The DSM consists of 13,519,874 three-dimensional data points with an average density of 186.84 points per square metre. This data was then processed in GIS to produce hillshade ( ) and slope ( ) models which were analysed to create a plan ( ) of the visible archaeological features. Figs. 3–4 Fig. 5 Fig. 6 Fig. 7

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Drone
  • GIS
  • Hillforts
  • Landscape archaeology
  • Photogrammetry
  • Topographical survey


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