The seven archaeological wonders of Uist drawn back into ancient landscape

Uist is bidding for its share of Scotland’s archaeological glory with a new project that visualises its most thrilling ancient sites back in the landscape once again.

Cladh Hallan, a Bronze Age settlement in South Uist where two mummified bodies were found, visualised in the landscape where it once stood. PIC: UHI.
Cladh Hallan, a Bronze Age settlement in South Uist where two mummified bodies were found, visualised in the landscape where it once stood. PIC: UHI.

Seven archaeological wonders of the islands will feature in a new app which allows the ancient landscape to emerge in front of the very eyes of visitors as they tread close to the sites.

The first is Cladh Hallan, a Bronze Age settlement in South Uist, which changed understanding of prehistoric life when two mummified bodies – a male and a female – were found under one of the dwellings.

Uist has a rich array of archaeology but the remains often sit out of clear sight. Now, it is hoped that the Uist Unearthed app will help bring to life the history of the islands and help them share in Scotland s archaeological glory, much of which is focussed on Orkney given its world-class selection of highly visible and dramatic monuments.

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    The app will trigger visualisations of the ancient sites as users walk towards them. PIC: UHI.

    Dr Emily Gal, archaeologist with the University of Highlands and Islands, said: "On Uist, we have a lot of fantastic sites of international significance which have undergone fantastic preservation.

    "When people think of archaeology in Scotland they think of Orkney. That is something we would really like to change. When you look at Orkney, they have these huge upstanding monuments. That is not the case in the Hebrides, where the archaeology is much more buried.

    "As archaeologists, we see these lumps and bumps but they are not always apparent to everyone.

    "Very few sites on Uist are furnished with interpretation boards but they come with a lot of maintenance given issues with fading. Some have been scratched down by cows.

    "By finding this digital solution, we have come up with something that has minimal impact on the landscape. We are uncovering these sites in a very visual way, with little impact on the ground.”

    Using the app, Claddah Hall will appear as it may have looked 3,500 years ago with 3D models of artefacts, animations, audio, and bilingual text content also included.

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    The app and reconstructions have been created by Peel Interactive, who develop immersive digital experiences for the heritage and tourism sector.

    The Bornais Viking settlements in South Uist, one of the largest of its kind in Britain, will be visualised next.

    Dr Gal added: "What is really nice is that a lot of the sites on South Uist have been really well excavated and lots of really rich detail has been found. Lots of it tends to be written down in these huge tomes, which are not that accessible.

    "We have pulled out a lot of the information, things like roof materials and measurements, which was then used to create the visualisations.”

    The visualisations were then made by Peel using software similar to that used in games development.

    Eileen Stuart: Deputy Director of Nature & Climate Change at NatureScot, who helped fund the project, said: “It’s great news that we can help support such an exciting project through our Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund. This new app brilliantly showcases the rich historical sites along the Hebridean Way, giving visitors even more to enjoy and learn about the islands’ unique landscape and culture.”

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