The Archaeological Kite Aerial Photography Group

(UK & Ireland)

(formerly known as The West Lothian Archaeology Group)

Group Members

UK and Ireland

Originally, West Lothian Archaeology was just a local, non-commercial community group which now includes widespread, independent individuals, who provide mutual support, advice and publicity on the application of kite aerial photography, especially in heritage and archaeology.

We are always interested to hear from archaeological KAPers who would like to be considered for inclusion in the listing.

Scotland Ireland England Wales

Archaeology Index

The West Lothian Archaeological Trust 

Our Scottish National Aerial Photography Scheme (SNAPS)

The Applications of Kite Aerial Remote Sensing (3D modelling, mapping, habitat monitoring etc)

The Prime Minister of Ireland with seven members of the Group and others (including Dr. Axel G. Posluschny from the Roman-Germanic Commission of the German Archaeological Institute, Leader of the EU's Culture Programme's ArchaeoLandscapes Europe Project and Dr Edel Bhreathnach, CEO of Ireland's Discovery Programme), at Balla School, Co. Mayo, Ireland.

Image Courtesy Western Care Association - Photographer John Moylette  April 2014

These pages are dedicated to the memory of Dr Alexander Wilson (Later Regius Professor of Astronomy) of Glasgow University

Alexander Wilson 1714-86

© The Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2012.

and his student, Thomas Melvill, for their pioneering work, in 1749, on the use of kites as an aerial platform for scientific research.

See also kite aerial photography pioneers Arthur Batut, R. Thiele, ,William Abner Eddy (360 degree panoramas) and George Lawrence (2). E. Douglas Archibald (1897) is often credited as the first kite aerial photographer but any pre-Batut images (as far as we know) have not been verified or published. Following normal scientific practice, credit should therefore go to Arthur Batut. Henry Wellcome was using kite aerial photography on an archaeological site around 1913.

 Archaeology Index

Archaeological Kite Aerial Photographers

The Preceptory, Torphichen and Castlethorn hillfort top left.  KAP



Honorary Member

James Gentles


Website  Galleries  Innovation  Photographic Service

James has provided an inspirational lead in the low-level aerial photography of West Lothian and has demonstrated excellence and innovation in the field of kite aerial photography.

West Lothian Archaeological Trust

Jim Knowles FSA Scot

Trust Archaeologist and Secretary

Responsible for archaeology and associated sciences


Archaeology, geophysics and kite aerial photography

Jim's first degree is in Archaeological Sciences from the University of Bradford. He then undertook a a postgraduate degree in computing to extend his knowledge of computational programming. Jim has worked as a professional archaeologist for a number of years. His varied career has undertaken all aspects of archaeological field work across many different areas, from prehistoric, battlefield and industrial archaeology. Jim has a specialist knowledge of archaeological prospection, including the use of magnetic, earth resistance, ground penetrating radar and chemical methods to detect and identify archaeological areas of interest. Also, he has an interest in scientific analysis, including chemical and metallurgical, and in computer use, including 3D modelling, database manipulation, spatial information use and programming.

Since leaving the professional world of archaeology, Jim has taken up part-time employment within archaeology as a consultant archaeo-geophysicist to an energy company based in the West of Scotland. His interest in archaeology and related subjects continues through the community group's activities. Jim is also employed part-time as a support worker for autistic adults across the West Lothian region. 


Dr John Wells FRSB FSRP

Trust Chairman  

Armadale  West Lothian

(and Stroud  Gloucestershire)


Broad spectrum kite aerial photography

John is a Chartered Biologist and a graduate of the universities of Warwick (Physics), Salford (Applied Radiation Physics) and Oxford (Corpus Christi College, Medical Research). After leaving Oxford, and until retirement, he was a radiation research scientist at Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories in Gloucestershire. Now, John's primary interest is in developing, and promoting, cost-effective techniques of archaeological/heritage photography in a community context, from the near ultraviolet through to the thermal infra-red.

Dr Cade Wells


West Lothian

Machine vision and emerging technologies

Cade's first degree was an MEng in Computer Systems Engineering from Bangor, Wales. His EngD was awarded jointly by the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot Watt and Strathclyde for his work on machine vision. Business Development Manager at CENSIS.


Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark


Archaeology, archaeological artefacts and photography

Hugo is an archaeologist based in Stromness, Orkney. He holds a PhD in Archaeology from University of Reading (2007) and is currently undertaking post-doctoral research with the University of York on flint and stone tools in the Orkney archipelago as part of the Leverhulme Trust funded project ‘Working stone, building communities: technology and identity in prehistoric Orkney’.  Hugo is a keen photographer specialising in archaeological artefacts and sites, the latter using elevated pole photography and, more recently, kite aerial photography.  He is currently experimenting with photogrammetry.

Kieran Baxter

PhD Student


Kite aerial photography, digital media, animation and visualisation

Kieran graduated with a BA first class honours in animation and went on to complete an MSc with distinction in visualisation, with a project based on KAP and structure from motion photogrammetry. He is currently a PhD student at the University of Dundee investigating the role of the creative practitioner within heritage representation. In his research, Kieran uses his own practice as a KAPer and digital media artist, reflecting on his influences within photography and film as well as querying how successfully a creative approach sits alongside an archaeological understanding of the subject matter.

Alan Hunter Blair


Archaeology and kite aerial photography

David Connolly

East Lothian

Archaeology, BAJR and kite aerial photography

Ron Dingwall

Bathgate  West Lothian

Kite aerial photography, local history and SNAPS in primary schools

Ron is a retired West Lothian primary school teacher and Chairman of the History of Armadale Association. Ron has taken on the responsibility, on behalf of the Trust, for introducing kite aerial photography into local schools.

Bill Kerr

West Lothian

Kites: designing, making, flying and aerial photography

Member of the Kite Club of Scotland. (Facebook)

Bronwen Knowles

Linlithgow  West Lothian

Kite flying

Bronwen assists with Group kite aerial photography sessions, flying the kites with cameras attached.  Bronwen assesses kites suitable for children and works with young children at public events.

Jackie Sangster


Jackie is an education officer for Scran which offers access to half a million digital resources for exploring culture and heritage. This includes a significant amount of aerial imagery and information from such collections as Aerofilms and also NCAP content. In her role Jackie engages with schools and offers KAP as a learning activity.

Douglas Scott


Photography and kite aerial photography of ancient monuments

For over 30 years, Douglas has been surveying ancient monuments such as standing stones, stone circles, the passages of burial cairns and rock art, in regard to their possible orientation to the rising and setting sun and moon. So far, he has managed to photograph about 200 of these events.

Dr Alison Sheridan


Novice at kite aerial photography - as an artefact-orientated prehistorian - but extremely impressed by SNAPS' work and keen to get out and try doing it herself. As President of the Prehistoric Society she will encourage members of that Society to embrace the technique, since it offers an exceptionally cost-effective way of producing invaluable information. For details about her activities during the day job (in charge of the Early Prehistory section of the Scottish History and Archaeology Department, National Museums Scotland), click here

Brian Wilkinson

Linlithgow  West Lothian

Archaeology, education, interpretation and aerial photography

Brian is a Linlithgow based archaeologist specialising in rural settlement, community archaeology, historic environment education and interpretation.



Kevin Barton

Claremorris    Co. Mayo 


Archaeological geophysics and kite aerial photography

Kevin Barton carries out archaeological geophysical surveys on commercial, research and community projects. He is involved in a number of training workshops for community and school groups. As part of a contribution to the ArchaeoLandscapes Europe Project he is introducing KAP and elevated photography with a pole to community groups. With some help from Group members he is beginning to experiment with 3-D visualisation of monuments and landscapes photographed using KAP as a complement to airborne LiDAR and ground geophysical surveys.

John Campbell


Gary Dempsey

Postgraduate Student


Archaeology, heritage visualisation and kite aerial photography

Gary is an archaeologist working the in the area of heritage visualisation.  He has a first class honours degree in Heritage Studies, from the Glaway Mayo Institute of Technology and a Masters in Irish Studies from the National University of Ireland, Galway.  While working as the Education Officer for the archaeological complex of Rathcroghan in the west of Ireland he became aware of the SNAPS scheme and was drawn by the possibilities of using KAP to record and present large scale historical landscapes to the public.  Gary is currently studying for a MSc in International Heritage Visualisation at the Digital Design Studio in Glasgow, where he is working on photogrammetry of complex monuments using KAP and standard photography. 

Simon Dowling


Low Altitude Aerial Surveying and Photogrammetry

Simon has a background in Aeronautical Engineering and Pharmacy, with a keen interest in applying the emerging technology of Structure from Motion Photogrammetry to Archaeology. He publishes much of his work on his blog and under the Twitter name @dubhlain

Joe Fenwick


Archaeology and kite aerial photography

Joe Fenwick is the Archaeological Field Officer in the School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI. Galway. He received his BA degree from UCD in 1991 and his MA degree from UCG (latterly NUI Galway) in 1997. He has contributed to numerous field research projects over the years including Knowth Excavations (UCD), The Tara Survey (The Discovery Programme) and the ArchaeoGeophysical Imaging Project (NUI Galway). He also worked in the commercial sector of Archaeology for a number of years, trading as Archaeological Ltd. He has an on-going research interest in the ancient royal sites of Tara, Co. Meath and Rathcroghan, Co. Roscommon, in addition to the and Brú na Bóinne area of Co. Meath, on which he has published widely. As Archaeological Field Officer (Senior Technician) Joe specialises in the area of field research and scientific survey techniques and has a new-found interest in kite aerial photography – a simple yet remarkably effective survey tool for students and a wonderful excuse to explore the archaeological riches of the Irish landscape with the family!

Tina Keating

Copper Coast Geopark

 Co. Waterford


Christy Lawless

Turlough  Castlebar

Co. Mayo    Ireland

Archaeology and kite aerial photography

Christy Lawless is a Field Archaeologist and is a member of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland (IAI), the Irish Association for Quaternary Studies (IQUA), the Mayo Archaeological and Historical Society and Westport Civic Trust. He has discovered and recorded over 300 previously unrecorded archaeological sites and monuments in Co. Mayo. His aerial photography has brought to notice many previously unknown archaeological sites in Co. Mayo. He has published articles of archaeological interest each year in the Journal of the Westport Historical Society from 1987-2003 and also in other publications. He gives talks and field trips on archaeological heritage to Historical Societies and Community Groups. He is an authority on Irish Fulacht Fiadh (Bronze Age Cooking Procedure) and has carried out this piece of experimental archaeology on ten occasions from 1986-2002 for students, teachers and colleges. The introduction of Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) has added a new dimension to his archaeological studies and he is now using KAP as follow-up to Lidar ground survey images.  

Ciarán May

Séamus Ó Murchú

PhD Student


Upland archaeology, kite aerial photography and remote sensing

Growing up in Carlow, Ireland, Seamus has a BA and MA in Archaeology from University College Dublin and started a PhD also based in UCD in January 2012 funded by the Archaeolandscapes Europe Network. This research aims to better understand the archaeological potential of an understudied upland landscape in Ireland. To answer this question the Blackstairs Mountains in Counties Carlow, Wexford and Kilkenny, Ireland are being taken as the primary focus with the better researched Dublin and Wicklow Mountains offering a parellel site. The period around the time of the Great Famine in Ireland is of particular interest in answering this question. Kite Aerial Photography is being used too as a follow up on ground survey, LiDAR and satellite imagery to obtain low-level, high resolution images of particular sites in these landscapes where most of the existing imagery and remote sensing data is either of poor quality or of limited coverage and value. This has been kindly facilitated by SNAPS.

Frank Scott



Professional photography, aerial and heritage photography and archaeology

Frank studied professional photography in the early 80s and went on to work as an Assistant Cameraman on shoots for BBC, ZDF, CBC, RTE and UTV . He then went working for RTE Sports and Lifestyle shows. Frank later went into sales and, after 20 years,  decided to develop his interest in Archaeology, studying in N.U.I. Galway. Frank is Chairman of Roscommon Heritage Group and is involved with their local museum. He loves all types of aerial photography. Going forward, he wants to develop some community archaeology in the Irish midlands, using both still and video to produce small productions for the Archaeology and Heritage sectors.



Bill Blake


Heritage documentation, digital  recording and kite aerial photography

Bill was formerly Measured Survey Manager, responsible for QA and drawing production with English Heritage. He specialises in low level aerial photography for metric survey, visitor orientation, site context and condition record, using a range of tools.

Hannah Brown

PhD Student


Archaeology and kite aerial photography

I did my undergraduate degree in Modern History at Oxford University (Magdalen College), followed by an MA (distinction) in Medieval Studies at the University of York, which specialised in early medieval archaeology, history and art history and involved a dissertation investigating Viking occupation (as a result, I am now involved in the Torksey Project - google it!). I then discovered geophysics and did an MSc (distinction) in archaeological geophysics and prospection at Bradford University, before working commercially as a geophysicist for several years. I have now returned to Bradford and am doing a PhD; I am using a GIS approach to examine later prehistoric coaxial field systems in the Yorkshire Dales, which involves collating the existing evidence in combination with field observation. The PhD exploits, including some kite aerial photography attemps, can be followed here:

Giles Carey


Archaeology and kite aerial photography (1, 2, 34)

I am an archaeologist, currently working in England, with experience across the community, commercial and local authority sectors. I have dug across Britain, but most enjoy excavating and researching the Neolithic of Orkney, where I have been exploring the remote sensing of Early Neolithic timber sites. I am passionate about communicating the past and what archaeologists do with all whether I'm being paid to do so or not! Although a fairly new practitioner of kite aerial photography, I am excited by its prospects for engagement and research and am keen to develop it as a tool to produce images that inform and entertain!

Tim Carter

Archaeology and kite aerial photography

Tim is a graduate of Plymouth University (BSc in Archaeology), and has been on the commercial field archaeology scene since graduating. He is currently a Senior Field Archaeologist working for Suffolk Archaeology CIC, based in Needham Market, Suffolk. He uses his kites and rigs primarily at work to obtain low level high resolution photographs of ongoing archaeological excavations. Tim also uses his KAP gear in his spare time to capture the local landscape around him, and the features within it, both natural, and man-made. Contact

Hamish Fenton


Archaeology and kite aerial photography

Susie Green

PhD Student


Kite aerial photography and Structure from Motion

Susie has a first class degree in photography and an MPhil in 3D Graphics from the Digital Design Studio, both Glasgow School of Art. After 12 years working as a 3D video game artist for Sony she returned to university to study archaeology at UCL, where she completed an MSc with distinction in GIS and Spatial Analysis for Archaeology. She is now working on a PhD, looking at the use of Structure from Motion as a tool for Archaeological research. This involves, among other subjects, the use of Kite Aerial Photography to create orthogonal images and elevation models of archaeological sites.

Mark Houshold

Postgraduate Student


Kite aerial photography and archaeology

Just completing a BSc in Archaeology (already has BSc in Prosthetics 1993). Specialising in near east dessert KAP, mainly for the dept of Antiques and Museums in Kuwait. If all goes well he should be continuing with a Research Masters using KAP as a source of images for producing maps of Early Christian, Islamic, Bronze Age and Hellenistic sites on Failaka Is. in the north of the Gulf. He has also used KAP and Helikite photography to support research projects over the last two years for Durham University in Spain, Kuwait, Nepal (in conjunction with UNESCO and National Geographic Magazine), Ukraine, Bulgaria and UK. In July (2013), he will be working at the Badgendon Oppida (Cirencester) to combine gradiometer surveys with aerial photography (similar to other work he has completed in Nepal, producing background images for ground penetrating radar surveys) and then having a week or so at Silchester for Reading University.

Mary K. Saunders

PhD Student


Archaeology, geophysics and low-level aerial photography

Mary has a BA in Archaeology from Durham and an MSc in Archaeological Prospection from Bradford and has spent the last 11 years working in commercial archaeology, firstly with GSB Prospection for 2 years, with Oxford Archaeology and latterly with ORCA Geophysics (OCGU) in Orkney. Originally from West Lothian, Mary has just started a PhD project on "Unravelling the later prehistoric landscape of the Yorkshire Dales: A fieldwork based approach" and will be using a whole suite of techniques to look at parcels within the landscape to address various research questions.  Mary intends to follow walkover surveys with UAV flights and KAP to obtain low-level, high resolution aerial photographs of the sites and areas of interest, to then target investigation areas for other techniques such as topo and geophysics.

Sue Storey

Kite aerial photography (Ipernity)

Stroud District 


Heidi Walker

Group Illustrator

Paganhill  Stroud

Illustration and kite aerial photography

After preliminary courses at The Slade and Stroud Art School, Heidi graduated with a first class honours degree in Illustration (with John Hullah Award) from the University of the West of England. She completed her studies with a Masters in Sequential Design and Illustration from Brighton University. Heidi works as Design Manager at Meri Meri and is also a volunteer photographer (including KAP) with the National Trust.

John Wells


(and Armadale  West Lothian)

 As above

Alice Fallon


Archaeology and kite aerial photography

From 2008-2013 Alice completed BA(hons) and MA Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, collaborating with the Thames Discovery Programme to survey the river foreshore and researching the archaeology of whaling in 18th and 19th Century London. She currently teaches A Level Archaeology and History at Cirencester College and is a module leader on the Archaeology and Historic Landscape Conservation and Environmental Conservation and Heritage Management Foundation Degrees delivered in partnership between Cirencester College and the Royal Agricultural University. Staff and students regularly undertake fieldwork including geophysical surveys, excavation and using KAP to investigate local archaeological sites.


Outside the UK and Ireland

David Stott

PhD Student

Archaeology, scientific research and kite aerial photography

Researcher with the multidisciplinary, multi-centre, DART Project, based at Leeds University. David models contrast formation parameters for archaeological deposits in hyper-spectral data and is a graduate of the universities of Glasgow (Archaeology) and Edinburgh (GIS).

Awaiting update


Group members Heidi Walker, James Gentles, Kieran Baxter, Rosie and John at Kieran's MSc presentation in Dundee.   August 2012

Cairnpapple  KAP   © Jim Knowles

Details of the Group's equipment can be found on the geophysics page.

Forum Members of the West Lothian Archaeology Group

with their interests

Local knowledge is a valuable source of historical and archaeological information.  Often this information arises as a result of someone asking a question about a location, building or artefact. Examples are the gatepost at Southrigg Farm and the questions relating to the site of Ogilface Castle.

Although there are established bodies for recording new archaeological sites and data, we thought that it would be useful to set up a webpage with the contact details of interested individuals and where queries and information could be posted for preliminary consideration and discussion if needed.

Forum members are individuals and organisations who have an interest in the archaeology of West Lothian (buildings, 'sites of ', estates, local history, field work, documentation, maps, geology, technology etc). This list will not be selective, but it will reflect those who can provide and/or wish to be kept informed of archaeological matters. In this way, we hope to encourage the exchange of information, to raise the profile and knowledge-base of West Lothian's archaeology.

The West Lothian Archaeology Group will apply photographic and non-invasive geophysical techniques to investigate sites.  The use of kite aerial photography is a primary interest.

Contact John if you would like to be listed as a Forum Member below.

Laurie Alexander Researcher of Manuel Nunnery. Can be contacted through
Dr Mary Baxter Lapsed archaeologist specialising in human remains / taphonomy / British Neolithic. Can be contacted through
Sybil Cavanagh West Lothian Local History Librarian -  Interest: Castles, mansions and maps. Contact: 01506 282491.
Dr Robin Chesters Director, Almond Valley Heritage Trust - Industrial archaeology.
Sarah Cook
Gerald Cummins Old Roads of Scotland (West Lothian) -              
Nicholas B.L. Davis Archaeological / Field Walking Interest Group (Linlithgow/Abercorn area) from July 2009. Contact: 
Ian Hawkins EAFS
Martin O'Hare Contact person at WOSAS (Sites and Monuments Record Officer / Archaeologist)
Ian Lewis Oatridge Campus - Scotland's Rural College - West Lothian

Christine McPherson Interest: Field archaeology.

John Minelly Former civil engineer at Livingston Development Corporation.
Frances Murray Linlithgow Palace steward and archaeologist.
John Reid Retired but still interested. See Niddry. Can be contacted through
Jenny Sear
Jim Smalls Forest Ranger
Geoffrey Stell Building historian with special interests in castles, towers and fortifications, including 20th-century defences.
Dr Steve Sweeney-Turner Currently expanding the historical source texts on Ancient Lothian and about to expand into the oldest sources of Lothian and other Scots/Lowland music.
Stuart Vance lost contact
John Garth Wilkinson Preston-born, he trained as a linguist, graduating from the Universities of Birmingham and Granada with a degree in Spanish and French, and gaining post-graduate educational qualifications in Sheffield and Edinburgh (Moray House). His lifelong interest in art urged him to switch to primary, where he taught in Lothian for over twelve years before going freelance as artist, photographer and writer in 1985 and working for a number of puppet companies in Scotland, England and Spain as designer and translator. He was a founder member of West Lothian Artists. He began learning Welsh and studying British mythology as background to a fantasy work he was writing: this developed into an interest in place-names, and he wrote, illustrated and published West Lothian Place-names in 1992 (afterwards online at www.cyberscotia\west-lothian-place-names) with later articles in Nomina and in Scottish Place-Name Society publications. He spent over a decade building up a circumstantial case for Cairnpapple’s being ‘The Middle Sanctuary’: the site known to the Romans as Medionemetum. This developed into four volumes (c2000 pages) based initially on place-names and mythology but rapidly expanding into many fields. Since early retirement from part-time art teaching in 2007, he has dedicated most of his spare time to a comprehensive updating of his place-name works (forthcoming). He is a member of West Lothian Writers (with some poetry and prose published in the Ironstone magazines) and cartoonist-in-residence for The Harburn Times.

Wind-free kite flight at Kinneil

Kinneil Fortlet, Antonine Wall, Bo'ness (Formerly in West Lothian)  Near IR KAP

Local Organisations

West Lothian History and Amenity Society  New

Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society
History of Armadale Association
Linlithgow Union Canal Society
West Lothian Local History Library
Archaeological / Field Walking Interest Group (Linlithgow/Abercorn area)  Contact Linlithgow resident: Nicholas B.L. Davis, 


?Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society Newsletters


?West Lothian: The Built and Archaeological Heritage

?The West Lothian History Hub on facebook

Other Links

Group members Rosie, Cade, John, Jim and Heidi on Cairnpapple

May 2012

Rosie Wells

1949 - 2013

Website founder and co-founder of the Trust and Group