Computers were most certainly not used during the design of the famous Iron Bridge in Shropshire, the first metal structure in the world. But cutting-edge computer technology has helped English Heritage learn how the bridge was built. Its survey team created a high-resolution 3D model of the bridge, using archaeological recording of every single part, commissioned from the Ironbridge Institute.
This has shown that, although built in a new material, the bridge was constructed using highly traditional methods.
Carpentry techniques were used to make the bridge fit together, with each element cast individually and tapered to fit as construction went along. As well as being of great historic interest, these discoveries should help in the process of repair and maintenance. English Heritage is making the computer model available to professionals, students and schoolchildren.
It will also be on display at the bridge.