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Visualising Shetland’s Iron Age

Published: 17 May 2022

Three of Shetland’s most prestigious archaeological monuments will be brought to life next week on 26 & 27 May at the Shetland Museum and Archives with the launch of interactive iBook Shetland in the Iron Age, together with a series of talks from five visiting archaeologists.

Dr Li Sou and the interactive iBook 'Shetland in the Iron Age'


The iBook has been developed by Dr Li Sou, who recently completed her PhD with the school of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences at the University of Bradford, in conjunction with Historic Environment Scotland’s Digital Interpretation team and Shetland Amenity Trust’s Archaeology section.

The iBook includes 360° virtual walkable tours around three Shetland monuments which are on the UK Tentative List for World Heritage Status; Old Scatness Broch and Iron Age Village, Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement, and the Broch of Mousa. The interactive experience allows virtual visitors to wander around the monuments’ 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.

Dr Li Sou said: “We are delighted to at last be able to present the iBook to the public. It has been designed to make the famed Shetland archaeological sites more accessible to all, even if you aren’t there. The iBook format is not very well known in the heritage sector, so the project is an excellent resource that gives users a chance to explore the sites as if they were there in real life. It can be used on lots of different levels and is suitable for teachers, families, folk working in tourism, and everyone with an interest in Mousa, Jarlshof and Old Scatness Broch.”

Li will be summarising some of her key findings in the research project, with a particular focus on the design and development of the Shetland in the Iron Age interactive book.

Other guest speakers include Lyn Wilson of Historic Environment Scotland, who has been at the forefront of creating accurate 3D models of the historic assets HES looks after to support our conservation decision-making. Professor Andy Wilson, of the University of Bradford, will also be there to discuss how he been developing uses of digital recording on archaeological sites. Gavin Douglas, HES and University of Stirling, will explain how well stonework survives on excavated sites and what that might tell us about looking after sites against a background of climate change. And finally, Shetland’s Regional Archaeologist, Dr Val Turner, will reveal what lies ahead for the future of Old Scatness Broch.

Dr Val Turner of Shetland Amenity Trust said: “We are looking forward to showcasing Li’s new iBook which will be invaluable in helping the general visitor to enjoy these sites. We’re encouraging folk to come to the archaeological talks on the Thursday or drop in to the museum on Friday afternoon and watch Li demonstrating how to use the iBook. The iBook will also be available to browse on ipads which will be situated in the Shetland Museum and Archives foyer and Old Scatness Broch Visitor Centre.”

The launch and series of talks will take place in the Shetland Museum and Archives on Thursday 26 May from 6 – 9pm.

Throughout the afternoon on Friday 27 May there will be free drop in sessions, where Li will be demonstrating the new iBook and be on hand to answer any questions.

Old Scatness Broch and Iron Age Village, which is run by Shetland Amenity Trust, opens for the summer season on Friday 29 May. It will be open every Friday until the end of August for guided tours. Booking is advised.