The Harewood Estate, c.1698

Key Elements

  • 3D visualisation of historic buildings: a manor house, church and castle
  • Computer generated map-based interface helps explore the estate
  • Touchscreen-based presentation in two locations on the Harewood Estate
  • Funded by the Harewood Estate and The Churches Conservation Trust


Heritage Technology was commissioned in 2011 to produce a series of animated 3D fly-throughs detailing the 17th century elements of the Harewood Estate, near Leeds. The fly-throughs explored the estate church of All Saints', cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust, and the ruined Harewood Castle. These were accompanied by the earlier collaboration between the Harewood Estate and Heritage Technology that reconstructed the no longer standing Gawthorpe Hall, the manor house that preceded the current 18th century Harewood House.

These three elements of hall, church and castle were placed within a computer-generated map of the estate, drawn out of research undertaken by University of York PhD candidate Timur Tatlioglu, that detailed roads, rights of way, woodland and the estate's field boundaries. The nearby village of Harewood was also included.

The map was presented via a touchscreen interface that allowed visitors to initially view the map's extents, but then 'zoom in' on the buildings of interest. This triggered the fly-though movies, which would also provide the visitor with further information on the building in question. Alongside the fly-throughs were small pieces about selected inhabitants of the Harewood Estate, several of which are present in All Saints' celebrated alabaster tombs. This interface was presented on touchscreens in both Harewood House itself and All Saints' church.

Harewood Castle

Harewood Castle today

The reconstruction of Harewood Castle posed several problems, since the structure was in a ruinous state and was positioned on sloping land. Archaeological assessments of the building were available which provided plans and elevations, but these did not aid greatly when reconstructing the roof, chimneys and associated battlement walkways. Indeed, elements of the elevations proved (understandably) inaccurate when it came to reconstructing the building in three dimensions, and features that undoubtedly seemed to indicate one set of possibilities when viewed in abstract in fact represented something different. The fact that these imprecisions became noticeable only once they had been assessed alongside the other evidence in three dimensions highlights the underrated value of 3D computer visualisation as a research tool.

The re-assessed plans and elevations, coupled with a basic photographic survey, provided the castle's structure, but the topology and environs in which the castle stood were equally difficult to recreate. Initial ideas presented the castle on an abstract 'plot' of land similar to the physical models often seen in the visitor centres of historic buildings... and early output samples even emulated this by including a wooden 'base block' and information label (see examples in 'Gallery', below)! However, an abstract approach was dropped in favour of something that could detail the surrounding landscape in a more realistic manner. Combining the 3D castle model with a 'matt-painting' of the landscape enabled the surrounding environment to be included without the need to model a large area, and proved to be visually effective.

All Saints' Church

All Saints' is a 15th century church that was remodelled in the 1860s by Sir George Gilbert Scott. Heritage Technology worked in partnership with the Harewood Estate to establish which features would have been present in the late 17th century, and reconstructed the church with these considerations in mind. Structurally, the church has not changed significantly since this time, but minor elements such as the current crenallations around the roof-line and the church's clock were omitted.



The Harewood Estate: Harewood Estate map touchscreen interface
The Harewood Estate: touchscreen interface showing 'zoomed in' view of a map element
The Harewood Estate: touchscreen interface presenting the castle fly-through movie
The Harewood Estate: touchscreen interface detailing Harewood Estate inhabitants
The Harewood Estate: early castle reconstruction utilising physical model elements of wooden base block and label
The Harewood Estate: castle reconstruction detailing bridge and pond as suggested by archaeological evidence
The Harewood Estate: castle reconstruction with topographic land 'plot'
The Harewood Estate: castle reconstruction towers
The Harewood Estate: castle positioned in surrounding landscape
The Harewood Estate: castle positioned in surrounding landscape
The Harewood Estate: castle reconstruction roof and walkways
The Harewood Estate: early church reconstruction, with wooden block
The Harewood Estate: church reconstruction, with crenellations and clock
The Harewood Estate: church reconstruction, aerial view
The Harewood Estate: church reconstruction, minus crenellations and clock