Bronze Age Iron Age Neolithic Outreach

Immerse yourself in Uist’s archaeology with new phone app

A smartphone app launching this month will allow visitors to experience some of the Western Isles’ most significant archaeological sites as never before.

A smartphone app launching this month will allow visitors to experience some of the Western Isles’ most significant archaeological sites as never before.

Dr Emily Gal (left) and Dr Rebecca Rennell.
Dr Emily Gal (left) and Dr Rebecca Rennell.

The Uist Unearthed app – Ulaidhean Uibhist (Uist Treasures) in Gaelic – is part of the three-year Uist Virtual Archaeology project, led by the University of the Highland and Islands Archaeology Institute’s Dr Emily Gal and Dr Rebecca Rennell

The project is created and delivered by Lews Castle College UHI, supported by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and will also see the local authority’s heritage service work with community groups to create a sustainable heritage resource to enhance the islands’ tourist economy.

Incorporating 3D augmented reality reconstructions, text, animations, and audio, the app will provide up-to-date information on seven sites between Uist and Benbecula.

Augmented reality in action at Cladh Hallan, South Uist.

Using the app at each site, visitors will be see highly detailed, animated representations of the structures as they were in the past. These will be integrated into the landscape of the real-life present and supported by complementary mixed-media exhibitions at local museums.

Multimedia information will be “triggered” at each location, not only providing up-to-date information but encouraging people to visit and engage with these significant sites.

The first site to be covered is Cladh Hallan – a group of Bronze Age roundhouses in South Uist. Excavated by the University of Sheffield, one of the buildings was found to contain two mummified human bodies dating to 1600BC and 1300BC.

Six more sites will be added during 2022:

  • An Doirlinn, South Uist
  • Bornais, South Uist
  • Cill Donnain, South Uist
  • Dun an Sticir, North Uist
  • Dun Torcuill, North Uist

The final site, located in Benbecula, will be nominated by local school pupils.

Cailean Macdonald (Island Drones)
Overhead view of Cladh Hallan, South Uist, the first site to be included on the Uist Unearthed app. (Cailean Macdonald. Island Drones)

Project co-ordinator Dr Emily Gal explained: “Our goal was to bring the archaeological sites on the islands to life, and to as wide an audience as possible, as well as provide the most current information available on each. After months of hard work, we’re delighted to be getting ready to launch.

“Visiting a site such as Cladh Hallan and being able to step back in time to see it in its heyday raises the visitor experience to a whole new level. It’s been a real community effort and we’re really looking forward to releasing more content and bring the augmented reality experience to some of our other incredible archaeological sites.”

Available for iOS and Android, Uist Unearthed launches on Monday, July 19, 2021 and will be available to download from app stores from that date.

You can follow the project on Twitter at @archaeologylcc and on Instagram at @uistvirtualarchaeology.

The Uist Virtual Archaeology Project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, administered by NatureScot. The project is also supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Crown Estate Ward Funds, Stòras Uibhist and Lews Castle College UHI.