A PLAN to develop 3D app that will revolutionise one of Scotland’s historic tourist attractions has won £150,000 of funding from Creative Europe.

New technology, including augmented reality and 3D virtual reconstructions, should give visitors to the Antonine Wall in Central Scotland a more interactive experience, whether they are on-site or on a “virtual” tour.

The wall – which ran for about 40 Roman miles (37 miles) from modern Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde, was the most complex frontier ever constructed by the Roman army.

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It is now part of the Europe-wide Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site, and the project will see Scottish, German and Austrian partners working together to create the mobile app platform and new visitor content.

One of the project’s main aims is to engage with key audiences and carry out user testing, potentially with schools and community groups, in Scotland and Germany.

Other new technologies for presentation and engagement will also be explored, with conferences being hosted in Scotland and Germany giving an opportunity for information and best practice exchange across the sector, in Europe and worldwide.

The final products will also be made freely available to other countries along the line of the world heritage site, such as the Netherlands, Slovakia, and Hungary, so they can create their own bespoke versions.

The three-year Advanced Limes Applications project (ALApp) is a partnership between Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the Glasgow-based Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation (CDDV) – a collaboration between heritage specialists at HES and world leaders in 3D visualisation at the Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio – the Bavarian State Department for Monument Protection, and Austrian firm Edufilm und medien GmbH, who are specialists in the production of many heritage-based digital applications.

Previous work by the CDDV to digitally document the line of the Antonine Wall as part of the Scottish Ten project, will also be built upon by the initiative.

Dr Patricia Weeks, Antonine Wall World Heritage Site co-ordinator for HES, said: “Over the last 12 months we have made great strides in digitally interpreting the Antonine Wall.

“Thanks to this significant commitment from Creative Europe, as well as Historic Environment Scotland’s own substantial investment, we are now able to build on that work and expand our use of innovative technologies to engage the widest audience possible.”

CDDV’s digital documentation manager Dr Lyn Wilson, added: “The app will offer a substantial opportunity to share widely our high quality 3D models and accurate virtual reconstructions of both archaeological sites and artefacts from the Antonine Wall in a state-of-the-art way.”


A part of Scotland is forever Rome

HADRIAN’S Wall is one of the world’s most famous structures, renowned as the northernmost boundary of the Roman Empire.

Except that for a short time it wasn’t – that distinction belonged to the Antonine Wall that ran for 39 miles across central Scotland from Old Kilpatrick on the Clyde to Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth.

Consisting of a turf wall built on a stone foundation and with fortifications that originally consisted of 19 forts and nine fortlets at equal distances along the wall, it was for centuries the largest man-made structure in what is now modern Scotland.

It was built in the orders of the Emperor Antoninus Pius and begun 20 years after Hadrian’s Wall in AD142. It took 12 years to build and was only fully occupied for eight years before the Romans retreated south to Hadrian’s Wall, presumably beaten back by the fierce warriors of Caledonia, as they called the land north of the wall.

Its manufacture from turf meant that the Antonine Wall did not last in the same way as the all-stone Hadrian’s Wall, but with some of the wall being preserved we can say that there is a part of Scotland that is forever Rome.

- HAMISH MACPHERSON