Skellig Michael In 3D? Very Cool…

This is actually kind of amazing. A few years ago, The Centre For Advanced Irish Archaeological Research aka The Discovery Programme did some LIDAR mapping of Skellig Michael.

Lidar is a technique that uses “lasers” to map points on a surface to create a digital representation that you can zoom into and rotate at will in 3D space. Which sounds relatively normal now, in the face of 3D printing but Who knew you could use this technology to generate a 3D model of a whole island?

As part of the project they captured some of the important landmarks on the island including:

  • Skellig Michael Island itself
  • The Monastery
  • The inaccessible Hermitage on the North Peak
  • The Large Oratory
  • The Small Oratory and various other cells presented below.

Also, below those is a fantastic VR capture of a trip to Skellig Michael by Dublin Youtuber, Leigh Dalton. As someone who has been on the island dozens of times, this is the best video I’ve yet seen and really gives you a feel of the magic of this incredible place.

Skellig Michael Island

Geological marvel; bird sanctuary; ancient monastic outpost: Skellig Michae’s identity is not monolithic but, rather, prismatic: it depends on your perspective. The same goes for the shape of the island. I grew up with it outside my window and have always associated it with a pyramidal shape which, for most people, is the iconic shape of the island. However, viewed from Waterville, further along the Ring of Kerry, Skellig Michael looks like a discarded slipper, floating on top of the ocean. The perspective used by JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi frames the north side of the island alongside its brother, Little Skellig, to the left, which is one, even as a local, I had never really seen before.

What’s really interesting about the model is that, if you rotate the model so that that the larger peak lines up behind the peak where the monastery is situated, it shows you just how far out the island juts towards you when you orient it into its iconic pyramidal aspect.

The Monastery

The model below is of the monastery at the top of the Northern peak, which is what you can explore when you visit the island and includes the oratories and the iconic beehive huts.

The Hermitage

The Hermitage is the retreat on top of the Southern peak. Subject of the book, The Forgotten Hermitage of Skellig Michael, it was an even more secluded hermitage than the monastery. This was for the most committed and focused of the monks who would sit on top of the peak for weeks on end and contemplate God’s existence looking out towards the void of the Atlantic in front of them.

Large Oratory

This is the main place of worship in the monastery.

Large Oratory

A smaller version of the above.

Cell B

One of the cells that the monks used to live in inside the monastery. Created with stone alone, these structures have lasted over 1400 years against the worst that the North Atlantic has to offer.

Skellig Michael in VR

Here’s Leigh Dalton’s VR trip to Skellig.

Maybe it’s time you started to plan your trip to Skellig yourself. Start with booking a Skellig landing tour.


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