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Award for iBook interpreting Mousa, Old Scatness and Jarlshof

Published: 22 December 2020

An Interactive iBook which includes virtual tours around three of Shetland’s most prestigious archaeological monuments was Highly Commended in the Association for Learning Technologists Awards last week.

Li Sou recording the top of the broch at Mousa


The ibook has been developed by Li Sou of the Archaeological and Forensic Sciences Department, University of Bradford, in conjunction with Historic Environment Scotland’s Digital Interpretation team and Shetland Amenity Trust’s Archaeology Section. The project took six months out of her PhD, an “Industrial placement” with Historic Environment Scotland.  During her studies she has scanned the three Shetland monuments which are on the UK Tentative List for world Heritage Status: Mousa, Old Scatness and Jarlshof.

Originally planned to be launched at Shetland Museum and Archives last summer, the iBook gives the user access to peep into parts of the three monuments which are completely inaccessible to visitors.  The iBook includes 360 degree views of the interiors, and allows virtual visitors to wander around their inner workings, using staircases and corridors, as though they were on site.  It also includes links to information, interviews, historic photographs and even worksheets for schools use.  The iBook is designed to include something for everyone, regardless of age.

All being well, the iBook will be available at Shetland Museum and Archives, Old Scatness and Jarlshof Visitor Centres and on the Mousa Boat next summer.  The team are also working on an online downloadable version – an idea which developed during the pandemic.  Historic Environment Scotland is also in the process of rolling out iBooks at some of their other sites, and is finding that they attract additional visitors to see the real thing after.

The judges said that the Project “has excelled in developing a range of versatile digital assets to aid in learning about complicated archaeological and academic themes.”

Following the awards, Li said: “The iBook format is not very well known in the heritage sector, so the project was an excellent opportunity to design a resource so people can better understand how they have been used and not just see them as ruins today.”

Shetland’s Regional Archaeologist, Dr Val Turner, said: “It has been very exciting to be involved in this project and this award is well deserved by Li and the wider team. The iBook will be invaluable in helping the general visitor to enjoy these sites.”

Other contributors to the project included: Dr Lyn Wilson, Digital Documentation Manager, Historic Environment Scotland (HES); Al Rawlinson, Head of Digital Innovation and Learning , HES; Gavin Glencorse, Interpretation Officer, HES; Jennifer Farquharson, Content Officer, HES; James Hepher, Surveyor/Spatial Analyst, HES; Dr Val Turner, Shetland Regional Archaeologist, Shetland Amenity Trust; Prof Andrew Wilson, Chair in Forensic & Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford; Dr Stephen Dockrill, Reader in Archaeology, University of Bradford and Dr Julie Bond, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Bradford.

For further information, please contact: Dr Val Turner, Shetland Amenity Trust (07717 695282) val.turner@shetlandamenity.org