Burghead Short Film

A bit behind to update my research blog with recent work (somehow missing the entirety of 2021 updates!) but there have been a few exciting projects over the past year or so that I’d like to share over a few posts.

First up is the Burghead film which came out this past November and was a collaboration with the usual suspects – Kieran Duncan and Kieran Baxter. The film was produced for the University of Aberdeen under the guidance of Prof. Gordon Noble, and funded by Historic Environment Scotland.

Filming for the project took place in March 2021 and was a welcome release from lockdown in Dundee to travel for work up to Burghead for the day with Kieran B and the drone. This was by far the largest reconstruction I’ve ever attempted. Most often we track the reconstructions into live action footage which helps give people a sense of how the structures were placed in the modern-day landscape, but at Burghead this wasn’t really possible because the modern town encroaches so much on the fort. There was nothing else for it but a full-blown landscape reconstruction.

Having visited the site to get a better sense of scale and environment, back in the lab I worked on developing the reconstructions which would be tracked into Kieran’s live action footage for a cinematic landscape reveal. The palisades at the entrance to the fort were particularly challenging and there was much discussion between myself and Gordon about how they should look and what should happen at the edges where they meet the sea. Like many forts, it seems much of their design was intended for intimidation and first impressions rather than being strictly defensive and we explored a number of options, eventually setting on a combination of drystone and timber fencing.

The film has been a huge hit so far and had good press coverage – it was even the cover story for the weekend edition of the Courier in December in a lovely piece written by Michael Alexander! The reconstructions also featured in the latest series of BBC2’s Digging for Britain episode 6. Hearing Prof. Alice Roberts narrate my reconstructions has to be a career highlight for the year!

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