Dr Paul Reilly,
Visiting Fellow in Archaeology at the University of Southampton

Archaeology of a Digital File Rediscovering and modernising the digital Old Minster of Winchester. 

The models and animations of the Old Minster, Winchester were remarkable in 1984–6 for producing the earliest animated tour of a virtual archaeological monument. Thought to be lost, thirty years on the original model files were re(dis)covered buried under layers of now unsupported code and recovered. We describe how the models were initially developed in the 1980s and then subsequently retrieved, restored and re-purposed in 2015 by Paul Reilly, Stephen Todd and Andy Walter. The original project is re-evaluated in the light of contemporary best practice. In modernising the digital Old Minster this virtual model has also been translated into a material one in the form of a 3D-print. This physical instantiation of the model challenges conventional understandings of, and blurs the boundary between, real and virtual heritage. We contend that left unaddressed this lack of clarity is set to radically disrupt current best practice in the discipline.

Dr Paul Reilly is Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton. His primary research interest is in the theoretical - specifically ontological - implications of technology to archaeology in the digital age. Currently, his research explores how additive manufacturing technologies might disrupt current practice in archaeological field recording and representation. The Digital Old Minster is an example of the virtual and the physical in collision. The (im)material objects which emerge spawn new genealogical threads to their biographies, and can activate multiple new, and distinct, itineraries, hyper-jumping through the digital into whole new assemblages of being.