The Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland

Project start date: 1988 Project end date: Ongoing
The Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland (CRSBI) is an evolving electronic archive of British and Irish Romanesque stone sculpture. ROMANESQUE SCULPTURE Romanesque sculpture marks a high point of artistic production in Britain and Ireland, corresponding to the boom in high-quality building that followed the Norman Conquest in 1066, and reflecting a new set of links with mainland Europe. A good deal of this sculpture remains in parish churches and cathedrals, houses and halls, castles and museums throughout these isles. PRESERVATION Much of the sculpture is exposed to the risk of wear, damage and theft. Records of the sculpture's condition are invaluable for conservators and the church and heritage bodies responsible for its protection. The Shobdon Arches are a case in point. THE PROJECT The aim of the project is to photograph and record all the surviving sculpture, making this important part of British and Irish heritage available over the Internet. A team of skilled and dedicated volunteer fieldworkers locates and visits sites where Romanesque sculpture survive, describing, measuring and taking photographs. The project editors convert the raw materials of their research into an electronic archive. Church plans, generously made available by the Church Plans Online project, are included where available as an additional visual aid. The CRSBI has already established itself as an authoritative scholarly resource. Significant quantities of previously unrecorded material have come to light in the course of the project, and there are many examples of sculpture that are here being recorded, catalogued and photographed in an academic context for the first time. Concurrent with its academic importance is the project's role in raising awareness of the British Isles' rich twelfth-century heritage, helping to ensure its conservation and preservation.
Subject domains: 
Methods usedCategory
2d Scanning and photographyData capture
Coding and standardisationData structuring and enhancement
Image enhancementData structuring and enhancement
Text encoding - descriptiveData structuring and enhancement
Record linkagesData analysis
Searching and queryingData analysis
Text recognitionData capture
Use of existing digital dataData capture
Manual input and transcriptionData capture
Funding sources: 
British Academy, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Charitable donations through Friends of CRSBI (England reg. no. 1123261)
Content types created: 
Dataset/structured data, Still Image/Graphics, Text
Software tools used: 
Microsoft Access, Perl, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Dreamweaver, XMetal
Source material used:  
Text documents, transparencies and raw digital images (see Resource Description for further details).
Digital resource created:  
EDITORIAL DATABASE The Editorial Database application was created using Microsoft Access and stores information about sites, images and authors. It associates corresponding data, such as the identifiers for text and image files, with the appropriate author, county etc., and is therefore a key part of the CRSBI Master Module. It also serves as a tool for the editorial management of the material collected by the project, allowing project staff to record when data is received, and to track its progress from receipt to final editing procedures. IMAGE BASE The CRSBI fieldworkers take digital images in both TIFF and high JPG formats with Nikon Coolpix 5700 and Nikon Coolpix 8700. Image files range between one and fifteen megabytes in size. Images are also scanned in-house direct from negatives and slides, both colour and black and white, and saved as unedited TIFF files ranging between two and fifteen megabytes in size. (Negatives are scanned using a Microtek Artixscan 4000t negative scanner, a Nikon Coolscan 4000 scanner and a Nikon Coolscan 9000 scanner. The image editing software is curently Photoshop 8). The collection of TIFF files constitutes the CRSBI Image Archive. From each archive image an edited working copy is created, and from this two further images are generated in a compressed form (JPG) suitable for delivery over the WWW: as a 'thumbnail', and in a larger 'intermediate' format. The thumbnail form gives users a 'preview' of what is available. The intermediate format provides file sizes that are practicable for web delivery. TEXT BASE The text material supplied by the fieldworkers is marked up using XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language). This is a sub-set of the widely-used SGML (Standard Generalised Mark-up Language). XML was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to overcome the limitations of HTML (HyperText Mark-up Language), which until recently has been the basis of the WWW. XML is backed by major internet publishers, including Microsoft and Netscape. This means that there is already a significant international investment being made to develop sophisticated tools for retrieving information that is encoded in XML, and this process is set to continue. This, in turn, means that those who wish to access the CRSBI database are able to do so using the same web browsers (e.g. Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer) which are used for many other web resources. Significantly, this means that no special software will need to be developed or maintained by the CRSBI. Similarly, the adoption of this approach means that the materials published on CD-ROM can also be accessed using the same standard, widely-available, web browser programs. The information structure used by the fieldworkers, in particular the headings and specialised vocabulary, enables the texts to be marked up largely by automated procedures. The codes inserted by these procedures will allow complex searches to be carried out, and will enable related sites to be linked. The mark-up also includes technical terms, so that readers can access definitions or explanations when they require them. Final editing will continue to be carried out by the project staff, as would be the case for any high-quality publication. This provides a check on the automated procedures, and also provides the opportunity for any additional mark-up to be inserted. MASTER MODULE The Master Module is itself written in XML, and contains a ‘map’ of the system, and the screens needed to control user access and user navigation of the system. These include ‘pointers’ to the Image Base and the Text Base — a user will see text and image information in an integrated framework on the screen. The navigation information is created from the Editorial Database by automated procedures. The Master Module includes a number of special resources that will enhance the use of the CRSBI system. These include a series of indices to provide structured access to CRSBI site entries by Country, County, Site, Object type, Ornament type and Object. The indices will be set up in such a way that they may be used separately or in a hierarchical fashion, e.g. Country-County-Object type-Object. Other indices include a glossary of technical terms. Most of these indices are generated from the Editorial Database; others, such as the Glossary of Technical Terms, are being created by a combination of hand editing and automated processing. The design of the system means that additional indices can be developed when and if appropriate, particularly in the light of user feedback. The design allows users to browse the database in an unstructured way, but also to search for and locate specific information by means of the indices.
Access to digital resource:  
Open Access
Data Formats created: 
Extensible Markup Language (XML), Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), JPEG File Interchange Format (JPG), Microsoft Access Database (MDB), Tagged Image File Format (TIFF)
Generation of HTML files from XML data for web-delivery; Production of compressed JPEG files from uncompressed TIFF files for web dissemination (see Resource Description for further details).
Metadata standards employed: 
Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA), Dublin Core, simple (DC)
CRSBI site reports are being published online at

Institutions affiliated with this project: 

UK HE institutions involved:
University of East Anglia
British Academy
UK HE institutions involved:
Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King's College London

Project staff and expertise: 

Principal staff member:Dr Ron Baxter; Dr Anna Bentkowska Kafel; Ms Hazel Gardiner
Other staff:
External expertise:

Metadata on this record
Author(s) of recordAnna Bentkowska-Kafel
TitleThe Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland
Record created2005-11-07
Record updated2011-06-02 11:45
URL of record
Citation of recordAnna Bentkowska-Kafel: The Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland.
created: 2005-11-07, last updated 2011-06-02 11:45