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Explore Orkney’s unique 5,000-year history with drone footage and digital tours in new app

Picture shows: Drone footage of Neolithic settlements in Orkney Isles.
The new app provides a digital tour, featuring drone footage, to enrich explorations of the history of the Orkney Isles. Supplied by Historic Environment Scotland Date.

Visitors can discover the stories that shaped the Orkney Isles with a digital tour courtesy of a new app.

More than 90 different stories are available on this web app designed to enrich the exploration of Orkney’s various heritage sites.

The app features interviews with archaeologists and drone footage of Neolithic settlements like Skara Brae that make up the heart of the Neolithic Orkney Unesco world heritage site.

With the tour from Historic Environment Scotland, app users from anywhere in the world can get a glimpse into some of the island’s less accessible sites like Taversöe Tuick Chambered Cairn with the help of 3D digital models.

Users can also find out more about the ‘Orkney Venus‘, a Neolithic figurine found at the site which serves as the earliest known depiction of a human face.

The guide app can be downloaded to be used without mobile data or signal – a handy feature when visiting some of the more remote site locations.

‘Rich archaeological and cultural history’

From Neolithic houses, standing stones, chambered burial cairns and military installations, users will be able to discover the rich history of 35 of the Historic Scotland sites across Orkney’s 10 islands.

The two main narrators of the guide are Orcadians Dave Gray and Helen Foulis, with a wide range of guest presenters and leading historians.

Storytellers also share infamous tales such as the killing of St Magnus, including Orkney’s own George Mackay Brown and Sir Walter Scott.

Neolithic Settlement, Skara Brae, on mainland Orkney.
Neolithic settlements like Skara Brae will be available to tour virtually through the new web app from Historic Environment Scotland.

Andrew Burnet, interpretation manager at Historic Environment Scotland said they are delighted to share the new audio guide app.

“With cutting edge PWA technology, not only does the app combine audio narration with high quality drone and 3D scan videos, but once loaded it also enables users to enjoy the guide without being reliant on mobile service, making it more accessible.

“In Scotland’s Year of Stories, this new digital tour, which brings to life the rich heritage of the islands in 90 stories, is a fantastic opportunity to present more of the islands’ rich archaeological and cultural history, told by a range of presenters, including Orcadian voices, our own site staff and leading specialists, to create a truly immerse way to explore the stories behind one of Scotland’s world heritage sites.”

Culture minister Neil Gray, who is an Orcadian himself, “couldn’t be more thrilled” about the new app.

He said: “The fascinating stories about the history of these special places will be brought to life in particular by the drone footage and 3D models which will provide intriguing views of some of the less accessible and remote sites in the Orkney isles.”

The digital tour is currently available as a purchase option when buying an online ticket to one of Historic Environment Scotland’s staffed properties in Orkney.

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