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Portland’s oldest castle is to receive a 3D digital transformation, allowing immersive virtual visits in high definition.

Overlooking Church Ope Cove, Rufus Castle, also known as Bow and Arrow Castle, was originally built in the 11th century for King William “Rufus” II and subsequently rebuilt in the 15th century.

During the first lockdown of 2020, Portland Museum used social media to ask the community what island heritage they would like to see more of; Rufus Castle was commonly mentioned as a site people wanted to explore.

Since the castle stands in private grounds and is situated on a cliff edge, physical access is precarious. Accessibility issues were a key reason for the choice of Rufus Castle as a site for LiDAR scanning, facilitating safe access for all through digital technology.

The 3D model will be available to explore for free on the Portland Museum website, with a variety of resolution options to work with different internet speeds. It will also be available to view at the museum, for those without a home computer.

The LiDAR scanning and rendition work will be carried out by London- based Guildhall Live Events. It will convert scanned images of the castle and the cliff on which it is situated into a 3D mesh that can be viewed in various software packages.

Any sections of the castle not accessible to scanning will then be rendered by designers and animators to form a complete model. The team will then produce an interactive image for use on the web, allowing visitors to orbit around the castle in 3D.

The initiative, conceived and created by Portland Museum, is underpinned by a grant from Art Fund, the national charity for art.

The museum will invite local students to participate in the scanning process and the 3D visualisation will be accompanied by commentary from museum volunteers and a local archaeological expert.

Portland Museum’s Chair of Trustees Angela Scott comments: “Rufus Castle is a much-loved local landmark which has been sketched by the great painter JMW Turner and featured in the books of Thomas Hardy as “Red King’s Castle”. Guildhall Live Events has a track record in helping to bring monuments like this to life.”

The initiative builds upon the work carried out by many of Portland Museum’s volunteers in its recent research project “The History, Myths & Legends of Church Ope Cove.”

The LiDAR scanning is expected to be completed by Spring 2021.

Gerry Hinde, owner of Rufus Castle says: “I’m delighted that Portland Museum has initiated this project. Access to the castle can be treacherous and the structure has the usual dangers associated with very old buildings. This project gives people the opportunity to safely see the whole structure in precise detail.”