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Archaeological sites to be seen in full glory thanks to app

THEIR history spans millennia and now the latest technology is about to give them a new lease of life.

Seven archaeological sites located along the Hebridean Way in the Western Isles are to be brought to light in a series of stunning digital reconstructions.

Viewers’ experiences will be “revolutionised” through a project that will better explain historical assets of the region to locals and visitors.

It will be led by Dr Emily Gal and Dr Rebecca Rennell, who are both based at Lews Castle College.

They will work in collaboration with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council).

Ms Rennell said: “We are really excited to be bringing decades of archaeological research at these fantastic sites to the wider public.”

Natural heritage body NatureScot added: “In a project that will follow the trail of the Hebridean Way, visitors and the wider public will be introduced to key stories about ancient island life in a new and engaging way.”

Experts said the Way would be an ideal focal point for the reconstructions.

The Way is a 156-mile walking route stretching the length of the Outer Hebrides between Vatersay and Lewis and passes an array of internationally significant sites with histories stretching back several millennia.

Most of these have minimal signage or interpretation, and there is a growing feeling the story of the area is not being told as well as it could.

“That’s all about to change,” said NatureScot. “Making these sites more accessible and better understood is a key aim of this progressive project – as is bolstering the area’s fragile economy.

“The key to improving the experience is better harnessing of new technology.

“An Augmented Reality App [where objects situated in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information] and mixed media exhibition in a local museum will tap into the wide range of existing published and unpublished materials, to make for a better presentation of this key tourism attraction.

“An additional travelling exhibition will be used as a pop-up ‘portal’ to Uist, for prospective visitors to get a taste of the heritage offering.”

Four of the seven places are based around sites synonymous with the machair of South Uist, while two North Uist islet locations feature a Living On The Water theme.

The final site is to be confirmed, but will be on Benbecula and nominated by children at the local primary school.

Youngsters will also be involved in the project’s visualisation and creation process.

The Living On The Machair element will feature An Doirlinn (a Neolithic settlement), Cladh Hallan (a Bronze Age site), Kildonan Wheelhouse (an Iron Age roundhouse) and Bornais (a Norse settlement).

The Living On The Water sites are the islets at Dun Torcuill (an Iron Age broch) and Dun an Sticer (an Iron Age settlement).

Although there are visible remains at some of these sites, augmented reality apps will allow users to envisage the complete structures and imagine their scale.

Using an app, visitors will also be able to “explore” the area of interest as it might have been via a series of digital reconstructions triggered by features in the landscape.

The innovations have been created by the Uist Virtual Archaeology Project.

“Given that these seven sites are all well-researched and widely published there is a wealth of material to tap into,” said NatureScot.

“However, a lot of the published material is academic in nature and a focus of this project will be making scholarly materials as widely accessible as possible.”

Local historical societies, the local authority’s heritage service, schools and the Uist Community Archaeological Group are some of the organisations that have joined Lews Castle College in developing a plan to maximise the potential of the archaeological landmarks.

Source: The Herald

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