Customer stories

Oakham Castle Community Dig

Oakham Castle is a Norman motte and bailey castle that has survived in the centre of a small town, but been much altered over the centuries and much of its former structure is unknown.

In 2018 University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) and Rutland County Council carried out a Heritage Lottery-funded community dig to explore further some tantalising glimpses of stone walls that had been found during a 2012 Time Team programme.

Oakham Castle is an open public site in the centre of town, so there are always people passing through. During the two-week community dig an Info-Point unit was used to provide 24/7 visitor information about the background to the dig and updates on what it was being discovered in the two trenches. The public were informed of the facility by waterproof ‘plastic paper’ posters with a QR Code to access information on each specific trench. During the 10-day dig there were almost 1,000 page accesses, with a substantial number outside the hours of operation of the dig.

Project Leader Matt Morris of the University of Leicester said, “The Info-Point enabled us to present the historical context to the steady stream of visitors, and to easily upload photographs and video of finds as things progressed. I watched people of all ages using it and they seemed comfortable with the smartphone technology. It helped us to improve the presentation of information, and suited the outdoor environment of a dig better than other means. We even included some interactive games.”

Cathedral shares its history

One of the oldest cathedrals in Wales, and reputedly the smallest in Britain, St Asaph's was recently awarded major Heritage Lottery Funding to protect and promote its important Welsh heritage. By using a single Info-Point unit the cathedral is able to share its history with all its visitors, bringing the museum’s artefacts into the 21st century for younger visitors, and including those who would not normally be able to enjoy a museum visit.

As part of the project the Cathedral engaged specialist media developers Fuzzy Duck to create a smartphone app. This is being delivered by them as a turnkey solution pre-installed on an Info-Point unit. Alistair Monaghan, Head of Digital at Fuzzy Duck, says “We already had experience of using Info-Point as a platform to deliver creative media. The advantage for our clients is that we can reliably deliver a mix of smartphone apps and other digital content at any location, and don’t need to worry at all about connectivity. Religious buildings can serve visitors very effectively, but in a discreet way, without compromising their primary mission or distracting from their services.”

Extending church guides in a rural parish

St Mary’s Church, Frittenden, has recently implemented the second phase of an improvement project with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Inside the church the focus is on improving accessibility and amenities, including updating the existing church guides and making digital versions downloadable by visitors through the use of an Info-point unit. A smartphone tour and other material have been created entirely by the team of volunteers.

Project Manager, Jeremy Beech, is enthusiastic about the technology: “We have a very active team of volunteers with varying levels of digital expertise. The Info-Point gives us the independence to manage our own church and heritage information in future, with the comfort of the manufacturer’s free technical support. We are hoping to hold a ‘show and tell’ event in the future to help others in the Diocese to understand how to use this technology.”

Pier entertainment goes digital at Swanage

Built in 1897 Swanage Pier is a historic ‘promenading’ pier that is open to the public and attracts a wide range of tourists, especially photographers. Small scale ferry services run to Poole Quay and historic paddle steamers visit for events. The pier also hosts a diving school, the oldest in the UK.

Following a successful Heritage Lottery Funding bid the Pier underwent infrastructure improvements, including a cafe, shop, and new digital interpretation available exclusively to visitors on the Pier via an Info-Point network.

Nick Morris of graphic designers Wallis Agency created a number of interpretation stories and developed the Info-Point content. “I was particularly taken by the ability to develop interactives such as a ‘scratch-off’ image that juxtaposes historic and current photographs of the Pier.” he said, “The built-in Content Management System and private ‘Staff’ area has meant that I can hand this over to the Trust and their volunteers to maintain. If enhancements are desired in the future it will be no problem as the whole system is so flexible.”

Ben Adeney, the CEO and General Manager at Swanage Pier Trust added, “As we were introducing a modest charge for visiting, we felt that we had to have a more professional visitor experience. However, we faced very severe local challenges, especially for on-site interpretation, due to the extreme weather and marine environment, plus the fact that we have public access, and the way that the Pier interferes with Wi-Fi signals. The Info-Point team came down and did extensive site testing, as well as supervising the installation and commissioning, so that all the challenges were overcome with confidence. The system has been an instant hit with our team of volunteers who are so vital to our success.”

Vindolanda Roman Fort to have live updates

World famous as an important Roman fort near to Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, Vindolanda is both a major tourist attraction and an archaeological work-in-progress. Each Summer, a team of archaeologists drawn from across the globe carefully uncover its story and conserve its artifacts, making it a permanently ‘live’ dig.

Director Dr Andrew Birley is the third generation of his family to make this site the focus of his life’s work. As well as the excavating, the team work hard at developing the interpretation and the visitor experience. Andrew saw the potential for Info-Point to provide a cost effective and reliable method of delivering the latest news and interpretation to visitors at the site via their smartphones, even as excavation is progressing. Each year discoveries of great significance are made. Some are unique, such as such as well-preserved Roman swords, and examples of the earliest cursive handwriting, including a personal letter written by the Commander’s wife to a friend.

Following site tests an Info-Point unit was supplied, along with external antenna and a support package so that it arrived ready-branded and structured for Vindolanda staff to upload the content. Dr Birley commented on their plans: “We have many international visitors, and have commissioned professional video, so it’s great that our Info-Point unit will enable us to deliver sophisticated multi-lingual multi-media content to any visitor, and we can update it day-by-day if we wish. We are able to house the Info-Point unit securely in a building, from where the Wi-Fi signal covers the whole of the fort area.”

Landscape Partnership Opens Up Industrial Heritage

The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark is a stunning landscape of open heather moors and peatlands, attractive dales and hay meadows, with intriguing imprints of its mining and industrial past.

As part of its HLF funded Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership Scheme, the AONB Partnership staff team had identified two important industrial heritage sites in the Allen Valleys that were on the Heritage At Risk register and ideal for 24/7 digital heritage interpretation - a difficult task given the outdoor nature of both visitor areas.

As part of a major heritage development, the Partnership engaged specialist heritage designers Differentia to produce detailed artist’s impressions and specialist outdoor signs. Both teams worked with info-Point to develop the mobile digital offering that was uploaded and is updated on an ongoing basis by the Landscape Partnership staff and volunteers.

Scheme Manager, Andy Lees, comments:

"I saw Info-Point some time ago and realised that it answered some of our specific needs that could not be met otherwise. The on-site demonstration and test proved that it could do the job, and the track-record of the product reassured me that it was robust enough for our environment."

Conservation Assistant, Steven Lipscombe, who worked hands-on with the content said:

"With the flexible help of the Info-Point technical support we were able to do exactly what we wanted with the system. These units are now in place and operating well. There has been an excellent reception to them and the community are keen to make more use of them and explore their capabilities."

The Whithorn Story - interpretation inside and out

Whithorn has an important story to tell about its archaeology and its pivotal role as an early Christian site. The Whithorn Trust is important to the local economy and community, but faced the significant challenge of a rural facility, with limited internet connectivity and a limited pool of volunteers to provide a human-guided experience on demand. Led by the Trust, the community undertook an HLF grant-funded project to develop the museum and cafe, and to build a life-size replica of a local Iron Age roundhouse. As part of this, they wanted to provide modern digital interpretation that could follow the visitor across the site at any time.

The Trust commissioned professional producers Urbancroft Films to make a number of short videos using children to enact key scenes from the Whithorn Story. To deliver this and other content to visitors and school groups they installed an Info-Point ‘master unit’ inside a separate office building, where it is completely secure, and can feed a ‘slave unit’ at the cafe and a solar-powered one outdoors at the roundhouse.

The project has succeeded in its aims, and won the Scottish Heritage Angels Award 2017. Development Manager Julia Muir-Watt said “The Info-Point system enabled us to deliver what we wanted to do, at a difficult site for digital interpretation, and at reasonable cost. It provides a 24/7 digital facility via visitor’s phones that we can be proud of and can keep updated ourselves.”

Long Gallery interpretation at Hardwick Hall

The National Trust's Hardwick Hall has installed Info-Point in its Long Gallery in order to provide a novel way to understand its collection of paintings and tapestries, while reducing the intrusiveness of interpretation. Presenting the portraits on visitors' smartphones so that they can be analysed as Elizabethan 'selfies' gives a new perspective that makes the imagery more accessible to younger visitors. Digital enhancement of the faded Gideon tapestries enables visitors to see them exactly as they would have looked to Bess of Hardwick in the 16th Century, and explains some of the challenges of conservation. Discreet NFC tags are also available as location triggers, enabling the techno-savvy to integrate their physical experience with their digital one.

House and Collections Officer, Claire Hill wrote: “I hope you get a sense of the positive way our system is working out with our staff, volunteers and visitors. People who were sceptical about its use have been converted! … I remain very excited about the uses for Info-Point here at Hardwick and would like to see it spread across the Trust even further.”

The Trust’s feedback from visitors includes comments such as: ‘fantastic’, ‘easy to use’ and ‘helpful’, and an independent evaluation project reported:

“What became more apparent during analysis was what people enjoyed about the Info-Point. The survey and observation results showed that visitors felt it gave them something to do when they had walked ahead of their group and that they could in turn teach their friends/partners/family what they had learnt. This practice of passing on information to others is Info-Point’s biggest impact – it engages visitors with one another, allowing for the excitement of teaching bite-size yet interesting facts to one another in a way that other ‘visible’ interpretation does not allow.”

Interpreting a Capability Brown landscape

Petworth House in West Sussex faced a series of interpretation challenges following three years of archaeological investigation in their Capability Brown park. Not least was how to interpret a landscape without spoiling it in the process. They also recognised that their house visitors often missed out on engaging with the park as part of their visit.
They chose to install several Info-Point units in key areas as 'Park Explorer' hot-spots, so that all visitors could have access to interactive park-specific digital interpretation. Two of the units are solar-powered, with their solar panels blended into the landscape by putting them inside tree cages.
ATS Heritage developed an interactive map of the park as a navigation method. Using a 3D model of the park and a 'rub-away' interactive image feature, as well as video of the digs and LIDAR images of the park, they created an interactive experience in which the visitor can truly explore rather than follow a tour. 'Capability' Brown was himself an innovator, and would probably be fascinated by the QR codes, NFC tags, and GPS that adds location-triggered content for those whose phones 'have the capability'.
NT Regional Archaeologist, Tom Dommett: “Using 3D fly-through videos, historic landscape reconstructions and location-triggered content via NFC tags, our Info-Point hot-spots provide a thoroughly modern and in-depth digital interpretation without detracting from this nationally important historic landscape.”

Quaker history gets digital tour

Edinburgh-based Partner, Abound Design, faced a challenge to produce a variety of interpretive materials including an audio tour app within a modest budget. The client was Jordans Quaker Meeting House in Buckinghamshire, which Abound Director Russel Eggleton describes as 'the Quaker Westminster Abbey' due to its association with famous names from the movement, such as Penn.
They saw Info-Point as the answer to this latter requirement, due to its low cost, universal accessibility, and the fact that they could easily add more tours at a later date and the client could author additional content themselves.
Due to the size and layout of the building they opted for a 'Master' unit on the ground floor plus an Access Point or 'slave' in a window on the upper floor to extend the coverage throughout the building and outside.
Russell developed a bespoke navigation structure with support from the Info-Point Technical Director Paul Palmer and produced user-friendly signage and guidance for visitors, so that even the less techno-savvy are encouraged to use the multi-media guide from the start.

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