Archaeology Through the Lens | JORVIK Viking Centre

Explore the Jorvik Group

Explore the Jorvik Group


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Photography Exhibition at DIG

Load, compose, shoot and develop. No second chances. 

Film cameras captured moments in time in a way that today’s digital imaging has forgotten.

Join us for a special exhibition at DIG, looking through the archaeologist’s camera lens, as we delve into York Archaeological Trust’s archives to reveal a series of images from key excavations that began to uncover York’s Roman past…

Explore how photography has changed in the last 50 years, including stories from past and present photographers; displays of the camera equipment used to capture history, as it was uncovered; and examples of modern photographic techniques. 

Discover more about the exhibition here

In archaeology, photography forms an important part of the excavation record. Often the site photographs that the public see represent how the archaeologist wants something to look for the record, making sure that the site and what was found are looking their best.

Each photo tells its own story. Some fulfil a functional purpose, whereas others reveal the people involved in making each excavation a success. Some capture a unique moment or viewpoint, all thanks to the photographer’s ability to decide where to point the lens and when to release the shutter.

It is easy to forget that behind each image is a photographer posing with a camera, deciding where to point the lens, what to have in and out of the frame, and deciding when to release the shutter. Digital photography and modern cameras have made it easier than ever to rapidly capture images, and there is the ability to review, delete, and reshoot images on the spot, rather than having to wait anxiously for a film to be developed to discover if any mistakes had been made.

Explore Archaeology Through the Lens in full at DIG to discover this collection and the camera equipment used to capture history as it was uncovered. 

Discover what it was like to capture history in the making on film, from former YAT photographer Simon Hill.

WATCH: Interview with Simon Hill – YAT Photographer (1987-1994)

Photography Today

We continue to photograph excavations and archaeological finds, as well as live events – such as our annual JORVIK Viking Festival. We are also using video much more often to capture stories and use modern photographic techniques such as 3D scanning and laser surveying to discover more about our finds.

Photogrammetry is the art and science of extracting 3D information from photographs. We use photogrammetry to create 3D models of our incredible artefacts.

Explore some 3D models created by YAT using photogrammetry here. 

Here are some more examples below of scans of Viking-age artefacts:


3D Artefact Scans: