The Great Hall

Alice Watterson’s reconstruction of the Great Hall at Bodiam.

Completed by Alice Watterson in 2010 during her MSc in Archaeological Computing Virtual Pasts from the University of Southampton, the overall aim of the Great Hall Project was to create a piece of accessible media which served to explore the history of the Great Hall in a wider time-scale than is normally considered in archaeological reconstructions. The objective was to present Bodiam’s dynamic past while at the same time illustrating the archaeological process of decay and re-use. A series of renders were produced which depicted the different stages in the life of the hall. For example, below we have the hall in use during medieval times, followed by its demise into a romantic ruin.

Digital reconstructions of this kind are not intended as authoritative or final images – they are better thought about as hypotheses that prompt further thoughts. In this case, the images used as painted cloths or wall-hangings have been taken from contemporary documents and other images; they prompt the viewer to think about whether or not they are appropriate. Again, the forms of the tableware and other items prompts discussion: we are used to saying ‘wooden and ceramic versus pewter and other metal vessels indicated status and wealth’, but what does this mean, precisely, for what would have been placed on high versus lower tables in the great hall? A digital image of this kind is intended as stimulus for the start of interpretation, not the end of it. See Cat Cooper’s blog for further discussion of these issues.

Alice Watterson is an archaeology PhD candidate at the Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio. In 2009 Alice graduated from the University of Glasgow with a MA Hons in Archaeology. Having spent much of her extra-curricular time training herself in the specialist techniques of archaeological illustration she expanded her skill set into digital media the following year, achieving an MSc with distinction in Archaeological Computing Virtual Pasts from the University of Southampton in 2010. Her current research interests focus on the use of digital reconstruction as a tool for research and interpretation in archaeology. Visit her blog for more information.

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