Communicating Hidden Archaeological Monuments and Heritage Landscapes to Different Audiences through Advanced Digital Technologies

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bradford
Department Name: Sch of Life Sciences

Abstract

The aim of the Network of UK-IRL researchers and partners is to address the challenges of uncovering hidden archaeological landscapes, buildings and monuments through digital documentation and visualisation. Heritage landscapes may remain hidden because their significance is simply not recognised or because knowledge of them is specific to specialists and not conveyed to the public. The transformative effect on knowledge exchange will be seen through communicating new knowledge to a socially inclusive public audience.

The network includes archaeologists and heritage scientists from the University of Bradford, University of Aberdeen, NUI Galway and University College Cork. The UK partner is Historic Environment Scotland. IRL national partners include the National Monuments Service, the National Museum of Ireland and the Discovery Programme. The Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, the Burren College of Art, the Caherconnell Centre, Clare County Council, Wicklow County Council and the Carlow Archaeological and Historical Society are the regional and local partners, with key input from independent artist Sarah O'Connor. Researchers, partners and participants will develop the project through three workshops and a public symposium.

Five discrete archaeological landscapes, in Rathgall, Co. Wicklow and the Burren, Co Clare, have been selected to showcase the project. A range of digital documentation and visualisation technologies will be trialled on hidden elements of (1) the unexplored settled landscape of Rathgall hillfort linked with a new Bronze Age social elite; (2) a large enclosure/ long cairn on Turlough Hill, a highly significant place for ritual gatherings in Neolithic and Bronze Age Burren; (3) artefacts from archaeological excavations at the medieval settlement enclosure of Caherconnell/ its multi-period landscape setting; (4) the unknown northern extent of the Chalcolithic - Early Bronze Age landscape of farms, field walls, and ritual monuments at Roughan Hill; and (5) a late medieval building which may have a hidden identity as a brehon law school, at Toomullin on the Atlantic coast of Burren.

The narratives that we can generate about the material remains of human activity in the past is often limited by partial and broken views of the places in which individuals and communities once went about their lives. Digital technologies have the potential to extend and develop existing stories of places and can bring new narratives to bear on established views of the meaning of past built environments. Encouraging people working in different fields, especially in the creative industries to respond to and use 3D imagery and visualisation produced through the activities of this network will be an important dimension of the project. The National Museum of Ireland, the Burren College of Art (BCA) and independent artist, Sarah O'Connor will contribute to this creative process of reimagining the past in landscapes of the Burren and Wicklow. The project will also be a training opportunity for postgraduate students from Irish universities and QUB who will be invited to attend the technology trials and the public symposium.

The use of digital documentation within archaeology and the humanities has the potential to stimulate interest from new and under-represented user groups - including young, disabled or otherwise disadvantaged sections in society - using dynamic, flexible and accessible delivery modes. Economic opportunities for heritage and tourism enterprises may also be promoted by the use of engaging/ immersive mixed (virtual and augmented) reality content of local monuments/ landscapes and by the creation of replicas and 3D prints of associated artefacts. The network will share knowledge through an interactive website, film and other artistic media together with 3D visualisation, mixed reality, and 3D prints of monuments and artefacts and a peer-reviewed journal article.

Planned Impact

The impact of our Network will be monitored from the outset as we deliver three workshops, numerous focussed events and these culminate in a public symposium. We will trial digital documentation and visualisation for heritage to the public and specialist managers/ deliverers of heritage assets. Specifically, the outcome is to make the public aware of, and participate in, recording digital imagery of varying types for enhancing heritage resources. Local case studies empower the public and non-HEI specialists to direct the trajectory of the outcomes after the network's endpoint. The partners themselves represent key International, UK/IRL and regional interfaces between the research and the public; the network's impact will reach to both partners and the public. Via promotion and outreach of the network the partners will drive change in public understanding of heritage and the choices society makes to promote and record these assets. In doing so they will engage in the discussion regarding longer term investment that will take advantage of the emerging digital technology.
Public Benefit: The Public symposium will reach out to stakeholders across a broad spectrum. However, the route to this event is punctuated by impactful delivery that will be monitored through feedback; Interactive websites, film and other artistic endeavours, public lectures and field trips all provide the opportunity for the public to better understand and use emerging technologies. This change is radical and long-term. With delivery largely virtual we will reach new audiences who previously have been unable to participate in landscape scale heritage, including young audiences and those less physically/ mentally able. Wide participation will deliver citizen-science based interpretation at a community scale. The resulting case studies will allow the public to influence local outcomes beyond the network. One public benefit is an increased 'sense of place' that is provided by focussing on local case studies. It is anticipated that there will be wellbeing outcomes as individuals participate in walks/ guided tours around the highlighted case study areas and these will be followed up by questionnaire.
Partner Benefit: The outputs of the Network are immersive in the broadest sense, delivering accessible content in both web and physical space. While the former advances accessibility issues (e.g. disability, distance from landscape, visit cost) that some have, the latter provides benefit to our key local/ regional partners. 'New' content will provide a demonstrable boost in visitor numbers thus accruing economic benefit. This is in step with our commitment to fruitful, energised and sustainable artistic/ creative partnerships; our approach will spin-out long-term IRL/ UK partnerships where heritage is the basis of cultural and artistic endeavours with clear societal impacts. Widening of access via planned events has numerous impacts for Network Partners beyond weaving digital heritage into the cultural mix - the economic impact of greater participation in questions surrounding digital heritage will in turn provide additional financial resilience to the partners. Better engaged local support will help prioritise new agenda.
Service Benefit: A key beneficiary is the public services sector. By delivering cutting edge digital recording and outputs, museums and heritage centres will be exposed to emerging technology. The Network will result in new discoveries and these will change the narrative provided in Museums/ Heritage Centres. The Network will provide access to new data and views to future digital delivery. In itself this allows the providers to discuss how the emerging data will affect their own strategies, particularly guiding future decisions on hardware purchases to support the delivery of digital discoveries, or recording of heritage assets. Overall, service providers will be able to make informed decisions based on real data discovered in the case studies.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description To date we have addressed the following objectives:

-Assess the technological needs of investigators in developing approaches that respond to the challenge of revealing hidden monuments and heritage landscapes and in making artefacts virtually accessible to the public. This will include consideration of the responsibilities and potential challenges that may arise from revealing new sites and monuments and the importance of establishing agreements with landowners.

-Develop an integrated methodology for the use of digital technologies and the practice of citizen science and artistic mediation of the network's activities in the five landscapes of Burren and Rathgall, which considers public access to and reception of the resulting imagery.

-Open discussion about how existing datasets (incl. remote survey, archaeological intervention, historic land-use research) about the project landscapes and monuments might be integrated and upgraded with knowledge provided through citizen science and made publicly accessible.
Exploitation Route The outcomes of this funding have been met through the establishment of a Network that has grown and is being developed into a bid to the IRC/AHRC Research Grant Scheme.

COVID-19 has delayed fieldwork from 2020 to 2021 (two extensions have been approved). The following objectives are thus still in train...

-Conduct trials of a range of technologies, organised around test data-capture, on particular elements (land-blocks, monuments, buildings, artefacts) within the five landscapes involving direct participation of IRL and UK collaborators and consider the potentially transformative nature of 5G technologies as part of horizon scanning.

-Disseminate knowledge generated by the network in a public symposium, through an interactive website, film and other artistic media, using mixed reality, 3D visualisation and 3D prints, and through the publication of case-study reports on the outcome of the technology trials in the landscape.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description The Network has been used to reach out to public and private sector organisations as well as community groups in order to draw on their involvement and co-design for a Research Grant submission to the IRC-AHRC scheme for the Digital Humanities
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Creative Economy,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description A Virtual Future for Bradford's Heritage (presentation to Bingley Airedale Rotary Club - 28th Nov 2021) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact Invited talk to Bingley-Airedale Rotary Club
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description A Virtual Future for Heritage? (talk to the Saltaire History Club - 11th Nov 2021) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Invited talk to the Saltaire History Cluib
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JLgSeYcBMI
 
Description AHRC IRC Digital Humanities Networking Awards Webinar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Event organised jointly by IRC and AHRC to showcase and update on progress for the funded Networks through the IRC/AHRC Digital Humanities scheme
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Briefing to University Council (13th April 2021) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact Chair of University Council Baroness Ann Taylor of Bolton introduced us to the Director of the National Mining Museum (part of the Science Museums Group)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council: 'Virtual Bradford' - an open digital twin for the City of Bradford (Local Government Association case study) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact invitation followed talk for UK Authority
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.local.gov.uk/case-studies/bradford-district-council-digital-twin
 
Description Horton Heritage: Past, Present & Future (public outreach event - in Horton Park 17th July 2021) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact event jointly with Bradford Council, Friends of Bradford's Becks, Friends of Horton Park, Horton Community Farm, local artists/ community storytellers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://festival.archaeologyuk.org/events/horton-heritage-past-present-and-future-1625729653
 
Description How can your local park contribute to climate resilience - Horton Park Story (1st Nov 2021 - to coincide with COP26) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact public outreach event with joint presentations with Bradford Council team to coincide with COP26 in Glasgow
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Meeting with Community Groups drawn from Wicklow/ Carlow area in Ireland 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Evening workshop with stakeholder groups/ community organisations (22 Feb)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Presentation to Bradford Cultural Place Partnership Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation by Prof Gaffney, Prof Wilson and Tom Sparrow - introducing legacy work of Visualising Heritage Team and related Virtual Bradford project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Queen's Anniversary Prize - Prizewinners Dinner (London Guildhall) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact Prize-winners dinner at London Guildhall for Queen's Anniversary Prize
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.queensanniversaryprizes.org.uk/winners/building-the-future-by-rebuilding-the-past/
 
Description Queens's Anniversary Prize Civic Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact Civic Event hosted at City Hall, Bradford. Networking during showcase and over formal dinner
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Release of vlog launching the Network to coincide with Irish Heritage Week (shared via Social Media) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Vlog launched to coincide with Ireland's Heritage Week
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://visualisingheritage.org/HiddenHeritages/news-and-events/
 
Description Saltaire World Heritage Site (invited talk and roundtable discussion at hybrid conference - New Lanark a Living Legacy 3rd March 2022) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact invited talk and roundtable discussion
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://new-lanark-trust.idloom.events/n
 
Description Virtual Bradford (talk to UKAuthority: Smart Places, Smart Cities 2021 - 24th Jun) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact invited talk as joint presentation with Adrian Walker from City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://vimeo.com/569858800
 
Description Virtual Bradford: Creating a Virtual City for the Future (UNIfy Festival - 16th Apr 2021) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interest in our approach to mapping townscape heritage and creating digital twins.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.bradford.ac.uk/events/public/virtual-bradford-creating-a-virtual-city-for-the-future.php
 
Description Workshop for current Network participants and others involved as stakeholders/ project partners for forthcoming Research Grants Call 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Workshop (26 Feb) drawing upon co-design of elements of extant Network and future scoping for the Research Grants Scheme
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021