Digital imaging technologies provide a new and challenging platform for the apprehension of material objects in their context, and also radically outside their traditional context. In this paper the 3D data capture of sculpture is interrogated. An early, inscribed high-cross has an inscription that was missed entirely by one scholar, dismissed as runic and indecipherable by another, recognised as geometric capitalis by a third, and variously interpreted as being Latin or Irish by subsequent viewers.
A laser scan of the monument in the field and its plaster casts in the National Museum of Ireland revealed a further potential reading and further opportunities for scholarship amongst historians, epigraphers, archaeologists and others.
Removed from its setting in the field, within a monastic enclosure, and now the subject of a 'downloadable plug-in' the question of contextualisation and representation for cultural heritage artefacts is explored. How can the integrity of the monument be maintained in a digital environment?
In this paper, the techniques involved in interpreting this damaged inscription are explored and solutions, in the form of contemporary best practice within the framework of the TEI, are examined.