Ename Archaeological Site

Ename archaeological site

Real time Unity 3D visualisation of Saint Laurentius church and environment in 1300

Location: Ename, Belgium

Institute: Visual Dimension bvba

Description Icon


The trade settlement of Ename is founded by the noble family of Ardennes-Verdun around 965 AD as part of the installation of the political and administrative structure of the Holy Roman Empire, created in 962 AD. The settlement grows significantly and gets an impressive stone keep when it becomes the seat of a margraviate around 985 AD to defend the border between the Holy Roman Empire and the kingdom of France. The keep gets destroyed in 1033 AD by the count of Flanders and Ename becomes part of Flanders in 1047 AD. The count of Flanders replaces the trade settlement by a Benedictine abbey in 1063 AD, which remains active until 1795 AD, when the abbey is dismantled and the site is turned into meadows. Excavations start in 1942 for 5 years and continue in 1978 and in the period 1982-2004. Through the study of 30 years of excavations of the medieval trade settlement and abbey of Ename (since 1940s), geophysical research of the archaeological site (2003), complemented by extensive historical studies and research of the historical landscape (since the 1980s), sufficient data was available for a virtual reconstruction of the Ename trade settlement, village and abbey from its conception around 965 AD until today. All virtual reconstructions for the period 1020 to 1730 have been commissioned by the Provincial Museum of Ename in the period 1998-2014. Besides interactive 3D, video and stills of the 3D reconstruction plus photographs of the site and its excavation will be provided. The reconstructions are supported by two blogs, one about the trade settlement and one about the abbey.

Capture Icon


Surveying, excavation, geophysical survey, historical research

Equipment Icon


Leica TC 600 series Total Station, Geoscan Research RM15 Resistance Meter (resistivity) and Geoscan Research FM36 Fluxgate Gradiometer (magnetometry)

Modelling Software

Modelling Software

ArchiCAD 6-15, Blender 2, Vue 10-11

Model usU

Model Use

By providing clickable zones, a lot of information can be provided about the reconstructed period, turning the interactive reconstruction into an explorable world, that can be used for education, virtual exploration, scholarly interpretation and quality tourism.

Processing Pipeline

Processing Pipeline

The 3D models were originally hand modelled in ArchiCAD from the plans made by the surveyors. These 3D models, made in the period 1997-2004, have been imported in Blender, where they have been revised, improved, retextured and completed. The terrain has been transformed into terrain maps for Vue, the vegetation (as provided by the expert in historical landscapes) into terrain types for Vue, with the correct types of vegetation and distribution of that vegetation. The buildings, resulting from Blender, have been imported in Vue.

The methodology is explained in detail here. This all yields a 3D scene in Vue that yields outstanding visualisations through rendering. We organise the rendering in a Object VR way (i.e. a camera rotating 360 degrees around a fixed point) and turn the resulting images into an interactive visualisation through the software Object2VR. In the case of the Ename trade settlement, only the period around 1020 has been reconstructed. The period of 1040, which has been reconstructed in the period 2000-2004, is currently being revised and will not be included in 3D-ICONS. In the case of the Ename abbey, the abbey is rendered for the different key periods, in the historical landscape that surrounds it (1065, 1085, 1150, 1300, 1500, 1595, 1665, 1730). A 4D visualisation combines all periods from 1020 tot 1730 and shows the evolution through time.

Online Delivery

Online Delivery

Not online yet. The online delivery will use the software Object2VR, which is HTML5 based. An example of the result can be seen here. Additional results will be still images and videos of the 3D models.


Licence for Dataset
Creative Commons

Creative Commons - Attribution, Non Commercial, No Derivatives.