Take an amazing tour of a lost Pictish village without leaving your house

Venture deep into the hills and visit a lost Pictish settlement that people called home 1,500 years ago.

The world of the ordinary Pict has been brought to life in extraordinary fashion with a virtual reality tour of the settlement at Lair, Glen Shee where armchair visitors are brought up close to ancient Pitcarmick longhouses and their residents as well as their clothes, tools and animals.

The community at Lair has been excavated and researched over the past five years in a major community project organised by Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust.

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The project has been credited with piecing together the everyday life of the Picts with its findings used to inform the digital reconstruction.

The lost Pictish settlement at Lair, Glen Shee, has been reconstructed in virtual reality to extraordinary effect. Reconstruction by Jack Horsburgh, still image courtesy of Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust.

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David Strachan, director of Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust, said that people all over the world could now get an insight of this remarkable site.

He added: “The digital reconstruction in Virtual Reality of the sites excavated in Glen Shee really brings to life what otherwise are fairly technical plans and maps of the findings.

The virtual reality tour was created using information gathered in a five-year study of the Glen Shee site. PIC: Reconstruction by Jack Horsburgh, still image courtesy of Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust.

“Also, the 3D nature of the environment, and the capacity for fly-through videos allows people to appreciate the landscape context in a way that’s more difficult with traditional fixed view images.

“While there are always issues with any reconstruction of the past – it is remarkable that from anywhere on the plant, people can enter this early medieval landscape and get some feel for what it could have been like.”

The virtual reality tour has been created by Jack Horsburgh, a student on the Open Virtual Worlds programme who was supervised by Dr Alan Miller of the School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews.

Mr Horsburgh built on the findings of the archaeological project to recreate the landscape and its inhabitants.

The houses, people, clothes, tools and animals found at the Lair site have been brought to life in the virtual reality tour. PIC: Reconstruction by Jack Horsburgh, still image courtesy of Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust.

The study of the three turf, timber and thatch Pitcarmick longhouses at Lair in Glen Shee concluded that the uplands were home to a settled and prosperous farming community from the late 6th Century to the mid- 9th Century.

Rye, barley and wheat or oats were grown at the settlement with a large number of cattle and some sheep kept.

The three houses are thought to have been byre houses, which were split into a large enclosure for wintering cattle with a smaller living area for the farmers.

Far from being poor upland farmers, it is believed those living at Lair were relatively well off. Metal working may have been carried out at the site with part of a padlock found during the excavation, suggesting that residents had property that was considered worth protecting.

Mr Strachan earlier said the study offered “fresh insight” into the ordinary Pict when many studies focussed on high-status sites that were occupied at the time.

The site proved to be particularly valuable given it had not been destroyed or altered by agricultural ploughing in the 1800s with it likey that other similar longhouses were destroyed by heavy farming methods.

The Picts emerged in what is now the north and east of Scotland Scotland during the time of Roman rule of Britain but whose language, culture and identity disappeared after 500 years. They were the last major ethnic identity to become extinct in Britain.

It is hoped that one of the longhouses will be reconstructed at Lair to further illuminate their extraordinary world.