All posts by david

Tech speak at Wuthering Bytes

Amongst an agenda filled with 3D printing for schools, an internet bill of rights and reducing anxiety using electronics at Wuthering Bytes in Hebden Bridge, Dr Mills presented on the Apocalypto project based at Queen Mary University London.  Dr. Mills covered topics such as a general introduction to x-rays, project technology and several case studies.  Dr Mills highlighted successful results from their work with the BBC salvaging footage from a comedy programme as well as early archival manuscript material from Norfolk Record Office.


Dr. Mills concluded his talk with a humorous quiz which involved the audience identifying various objects scanned as part of #xraymylunch.

Apocalypto goes to Dublin

Dr. David Mills presented to the annual Archives and Records Association (ARA) Conference in Dublin at the end of August with his talk titled Revealing hidden text with modern X-Ray imaging – Can modern imaging and image processing techniques retrieve textual content from damaged parchment rolls?”

Starting with a brief summary of the science behind their technology, he then explained how X-Rays are effective at  capturing archival content from otherwise inaccessible heritage objects.  David then profiled a number of their collaborations including parchment scrolls from the Norfolk Archives and 35mm film.

ARA slide 1

David was pleased to be invited to share his project with archivists and conservators as well as fielding general conservation science questions.

ARA conference, Dublin

For further information about the conference, please visit the ARA website.

Apocalypto on TV

When the BBC heard about our efforts to Reveal the Unreadable they got in contact. They wanted to know if we had anything they could film and use for television. At the time we were working on the Bressingham Roll (see past posts) and were about to reveal the hidden text inside the roll.

A film crew came along for the day and the video below is the result.

Flying through the Bressingham Roll

To get some idea of the internal structure of the Bressingham Roll, it was instructive to generate a fly-though animation. This peels away the scroll, layer by layer showing what is underneath various layers of parchment and how they are stuck together (if they are).

The videos below show two different “cuts” though the roll. The first is parallel to the long axis of the roll. The second is across the long axis of the roll – equivalent to making slices of a Swiss roll.

In this video, you can make out some writing – in places the ink was clear enough to give a good X-Ray contrast with minimal post-processing needed to make it visible.

You can see some dark marks on the parchment in this video, some of these are ink, others are some other material in the roll that is also showing up strongly in X-Rays. It’s much harder to recognise the writing in this view, because it isn’t presented to you in the usual format you see it.