Orkney’s history and folklore has been brought to life thanks to the efforts of academics at Robert Gordon University (RGU).
They have created a new digital trail that its hoped will encourage visitors to seek out the island’s past, stepping off the usual tourist routes in the process.
The Orkney Folklore Trail is a free digital mobile app for android phones that includes stories that can only be unlocked as each location is reached on the isles.
It has been developed by academics Dr Rachael Ironside, Dr Stewart Massie, third-year computing student Tim Melcherson from Sweden and Orcadian storytellers Tom and Rhonda Muir.
Dr Rachael Ironside, who has been coordinating the project, said the purpose of the app is to engage and educate people – visitors and locals alike – about Orkney folklore and the landscape it exists within.
The senior lecturer said: “Many of the stories are linked to the landscape but we are also looking to see whether this kind of technology can help disperse tourists from some of the hotspots on Orkney and encourage them to visit lesser known, but equally wonderful, parts of the island.
“When seasonal cruise ships reach dock at Orkney, tourists flock to well-marketed world heritage sites like the prehistoric village of Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar.
“This can result in congestion of rural transport routes and sporadically crowd local communities.
“While residents may welcome the potential benefits of tourism, ideally the impact of this influx could be better managed by dispersing the tourists across the islands and attracting them to other equally interesting heritage and natural sites.”
Storyteller Rhonda Muir, who runs Orkneyology.com, said: “By encouraging people to visit places, learn about Orkney’s folklore and also providing information about local services through the app, we hope to spread some of the economic benefits of mass tourism.”
Dr Massie, who is a senior research fellow working with a smart information systems, spoke about the process to create the app.
He said: “Targeted, location-aware applications are becoming a popular approach in information retrieval to overcoming these challenges.
“We also add simple gamification aspects to the app which helps make finding new information fun.”
The Orkney Folklore Trail app will soon be released to the public for free.