A new augmented reality game, launched by Historic Environment Scotland, will help tell the story of one of Scotland’s most iconic medieval castles.
Castle Quest is an educational game that allows visitors at Caerlaverock Castle to bring the site to life and delve into the lives of its 14th-century inhabitants.
Users are transported back more than 700 years to the year 1312, just before the return of Sir Eustace Maxwell, Lord of Caerlaverock, following the siege of 1300. The augmented reality experience will let users explore the castle grounds and hear tales from the various staff as they prepare for the return of Sir Eustace.
Caerlaverock Castle played a significant role in the first Scottish War of Independence, and in 1300 was besieged by an English force following an invasion led by King Edward I. Under the command of Sir Eustace, the castle garrison repelled the besieging English several times until they were forced to surrender.
Upon the castle’s surrender, it is claimed that a garrison of just 60 men had defended the imposing red sandstone walls.
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Stories from 11 members of the castle household, including the resident cook and a priest from the nearby Sweetheart Abbey, will be available to users. Current staff at the castle will feature in the story, with monument manager Valerie Bennett voicing one of the animated characters.
“It was a lot of fun lending my voice for the character and I’m excited to see how visitors explore the castle using the app,” Bennett said. “It’s been quite the experience following in the footsteps of lots of high profile names who have done voice animations – sign me up for the next Hollywood blockbuster – and a real privilege to be part of the continuing story of the site.”
Visitors using the app will collect a piece of a flag from each character they meet during their exploration of the castle and, eventually, piece together the flag to complete the challenge.
Gavin Glencourse, interpretation officer at HES, said that positive feedback from initial trials has led to the official launch of the augmented reality game, which brings “something different to the visitor experience”.
He added: “After a trial, we are delighted to now be launching the Castle Quest App and the feedback we have received so far from users has been extremely positive. We are excited to bring something different to the visitor experience which adds a lot of fun and helps our visitors engage with heritage in a new and creative way.”
The Castle Quest App is one of a number of innovative programmes by Historic Environment Scotland to use technology as a means to bridge the gap between Scottish heritage and modern visitors experiences.
In March this year, the organisation published a 3D model of Fossil Grove in Glasgow, which allows users to explore the city’s ancient forest from a “unique perspective”.
The experience was created through a mixture of 3D laser scanning and photogrammetry and has brought to life one of Scotland’s sites of Special Scientific Interest – which features the fossilised remains of 11 Carboniferous Lycopod trees, believed to be more than 300 million years old.