Flying over the Middle Ages

The growing popularity of unmanned aerial vehicles, such as quadcopters, is leading to some spectacular videos of medieval sites.

Flying over the Middle Ages

While unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are mostly known for their military use, and their potential use in commercial enterprises, they also can be used in many other ways. By attaching a high quality camera to UAVs, they can film from a bird’s eye perspective, or shoot from angles that people cannot physically go to. This has allowed them to be help assist archaeologists in mapping medieval sites, or to check on structures to see whether or not they need restoration. Two years, researchers at the University of Granada began using quadcopters to make scan historical building façades, such as cathedrals, so they can make 3D scans of these sites.


Cadw, the historic environment service of the Welsh Government, also saw their potential in marketing its medieval sites. In 2014 they created a series of videos called Castles from the Clouds. Welsh minister John Griffiths explained “We’re always looking at new and exciting ways to bring Wales’s history to life and these videos are a good way of showcasing our incredible heritage sites from a different angle … few people will ever have had the opportunity to see them like this.”

Meanwhile, many professional companies and amateur operators have created videos from flights around medieval castles, cathedrals and sites. Here are just a few of the videos that have been uploaded to Youtube:


Tower of London, England – footage shot during Remembrance Day services in 2014

Hexham Abbey, England

Florence, Italy

Devín Castle, Hungary

Ripon Cathedral, England

Donnington Castle, England

Tintern Abbey, Wales

Rievaulx Abbey, England

Coity Castle, Wales

San Gimignano, Italy

Türkensturz, Seebenstein and Pitten, Austria

Montbel Castle, France

Dunfermline Abbey, Scotland

Menio Castle, Ireland