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Prehistoric Ilkley Moor carvings to be preserved in 3D
Carving on Ilkley Moor
The carvings on Ilkley Moor originate from the Mesolithic period of earth's history

Prehistoric carvings on Ilkley Moor are to be preserved with help from the latest technology so future generations will be able to enjoy and study them.

Archaeologists hope to create digital 3D models of the carvings amid fears the originals could be eroded away.

Community archaeologist Gavin Edwards said this was an important development.

He said: "We have the opportunity to create three-dimensional models so they can be studied in the future as they exist in the landscape itself."

Up until now the only way we have been able to represent them is in two dimensions.
Gavin Edwards, community archaeologist

The carvings were made in what is known as the Mesolithic - or Middle Stone Age - era which started at the end of the last ice age in about 10,000 BC.

It is thought they were made by some of the first hunter-gatherers to reach what is now Ilkley Moor - an area which now has the highest concentration of Mesolithic sites in the world.

Human interaction

Gavin Edwards explained: "What we have is a dense concentration of evidence telling us about how the very first people who moved back into this area were exploiting the landscape and how they were surviving.

"They are part of the story of how human interaction with their surroundings started to change the very appearance of the landscape."

The Prehistoric Carved Rocks project has been launched by Pennine Prospects, an organisation dedicated to the regeneration of the South Pennines.

The project's aim is to ensure that even if the original carvings erode away due to the effects of the weather they will still available for study in centuries to come.

Gavin Edwards said it was all down to the latest technology that the project could be launched.

He said: "Up until now the only way we have been able to represent them is in two dimensions.

"But a new technique has become available to us whereby we can photograph them with digital images.

"Then, then there is a very complicated piece of software which can combine the images to produce a three-dimensional model of the actual carvings."

Ilkley stone carvings
The ancient carvings can be seen in a number of places on Ilkley Moor

Volunteers are now being urged to come forward to join in the Prehistoric Carved Rocks project in Ilkley.

They will be given the chance to find out more about the project and register their interest.

Training sessions

In the coming months, training sessions covering surveying, recording and photographic techniques will take place.

It it is hoped volunteers will then be able to put all these skills into action on Ilkley Moor over the next three years.

Volunteer Eddie Nash said he thought it was well worth getting involved for a number of reasons.

He explained: "It is an interest I have. I find it fascinating looking back and trying to understand how our ancestors lived and developed and gave us what we have today.

"It is the usual situation where people do not understand and use what they have on their own doorstep.

"Once you start to make them aware of things, they are very surprised about what is to be found."

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