by Emma Midgley
BBC Berkshire Reporter
Surveyors are creating 3D scans of Reading Abbey
Reading's 12th century abbey ruins are to be investigated using 3D scans by building surveyors to determine the extent of the repairs needed.
The ruins have been closed to the public since 2009, as the council decided they were unsafe.
This week Warner Land Surveys will carry out a £90,000 survey in order to form an idea of the damage.
The council estimate the ruins could cost £3m to repair, but the extent of the damage is yet to be determined.
Surveyors hope to get a better idea of the condition of Reading Abbey Ruins by using 3D images which will be taken this week.
The results of these 3D scans will provide a detailed picture map of each elevation for Warner Land Surveys to help identify the extent of the conservation required.
New fencing around the Abbey will also be put up.
The stonework has been exposed to the open air since Henry VIII carried out his Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Cllr Tom Stanway, of Reading Borough Council, said: "I am delighted to see that work has started on the abbey. This building is the most important historical asset Reading has."
The council is currently seeking advice from the Heritage Lottery Fund about possible funding opportunities to help restore the ruins.
Reading Abbey was founded by Henry I in 1121, due to its location close to the Thames and the Kennet.
When Henry I died in Lyons-la-Forêt, Normandy in 1135 his body was returned to Reading, and was buried in the front of the altar of the then incomplete abbey.
Other royal persons buried in the abbey include Empress Matilda, William of Poitiers and Constance of York.
Because of its royal patronage, the abbey was one of the pilgrimage centres of medieval England, and one of its richest and most important religious houses.
Reading Abbey was founded by Henry I due to its location
Reading Abbey was frequently visited by kings and others, most especially by Henry III who often visited three or four times a year, staying several weeks on each visit.
The abbey was largely destroyed in 1538 during Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries.
The last abbot, Hugh Cook Faringdon, was subsequently tried and convicted of high treason and hanged, drawn and quartered in front of the Abbey Church.
After this, the buildings of the abbey were extensively robbed, with lead, glass and facing stones removed for reuse elsewhere.