Daden Limited, Innovation Birmingham-based specialist in 3D immersive environments and AI has joined forces with Bournemouth University to build a virtual reality experience for part of the Avebury and Stonehenge World Heritage Site.
The new experience will allow visitors to walk virtually through the ancient Avebury Henge and Stone Circle, and experience the sights and sounds of the location as it would have been in the Neolithic period, before much of the site was destroyed by the building of Avebury Village.
The project has been made possible through the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Next Generation of Immersive Experiences programme, with the work involving a collaboration between educators and archaeologists at Bournemouth University, sound specialists Satsymph, the National Trust and Birmingham-based virtual reality and immersive learning specialists Daden Limited. David Burden, Managing Director at Daden Limited said:
“We’re really pleased and honoured to be a part of this project. We’ve always known that immersive environments can have a significant impact on how we view and understand the past, and this is an ideal opportunity to put our thoughts into practice.”
The main aim of the project is to bring together researchers in archaeology and virtual environment evaluation with creative partners in immersive technologies, virtual soundscapes and heritage management to develop methods of effective and innovative working.
In addition, the project aims to develop and explore the potential of virtual historical places to increase engagement through a sense of virtual place.
The project builds on work already done by Professor Liz Falconer from Bournemouth University, building a prototype 3D simulation of the Avebury complex. The new experience is being built by using Fieldscapes, Daden’s platform for immersive learning and training. Professor Falconer said:
“We are delighted to be working with Daden, Satsymph and the National Trust on this exciting project. We will shortly be launching a blog and website where we will post regular updates on the work, and give people the opportunity to immerse themselves in Late Neolithic Wiltshire!”
A key feature of Fieldscapes is that subject matter experts are able to create lessons and experiences from existing 3D assets without the need for any programming skills. David Burden added:
“By creating the model in Fieldscapes the team will be able to more accurately create the real-world terrain, generate better textured stones and make more use of audio.
“This will also allow researchers to customise and extend experiences without specialist help, and make the experience available on a wide range of devices including smartphones, tablets and virtual reality headsets.”
The virtual experience will be available at Avebury Visitors Centre for the public to evaluate during the summer of 2018, with a remote version available for those unable to visit the site.