Caerlaverock Castle’s history to get Pokémon Go-style makeover

An image from the new app 'of a historical character outside the castle, situated near Dumfries
An image from the new app 'of a historical character outside the castle, situated near Dumfries
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It is best known for its turbulent history and getting caught up in bloody cross-border conflicts.

Now 13th-century Caerlaverock Castle is set to get a 21st-century makeover that will allow visitors to play a Pokémon Go-style game at the historic property.

An augmented reality app is being created for Caerlaverock Castle under a pilot project by the Scottish Government’s heritage body.

Due to be launched early next year, it is thought Castle Quest could be rolled out to historical attractions across the country if it proves successful at the former medieval fortress.

The game, which was demonstrated to the public at Edinburgh Castle recently, involves collecting specially-created animations linked to the history of the attraction, which is situated not far from Dumfries.

Once the app is downloaded on to a mobile phone, visitors will need to walk around the site.

Unique among Scottish castles for its triangular shape, Caerlaverock Castle was a stronghold of the Maxwell family from the 13th to the 17th centuries, but was besieged by the English on several occasions during the Wars of Scottish Independence and was eventually abandoned in 1640.

Now looked after by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), it has been a protected monument since it was put into the care of the state in 1946. Real stories and characters from the castle’s history will feature in the game, with modern-day staff providing voices.

HES interpretation officer Gavin Glencorse, who has led the development of the app, said: “Castle Quest will allow visitors to immerse themselves in Caerlaverock Castle’s history in an entirely new way. While costumed re-enactors can tell the castle’s stories at special events, soon visitors will have the opportunity to hear from the castle’s former inhabitants and workers every day through the new game. We’ve been encouraged by the success of augmented reality apps currently on the market and we look forward to officially launching it on-site next year.

“The technology is gripping audiences internationally and we think it will make a real impact to the way visitors experience Caerlaverock Castle and its surrounding woodlands.”

The game was tested out by dozens of members of the public at Knight at the Castle – a new after-hours event staged at Edinburgh Castle earlier this month.

Stephen Duncan, director of commercial and tourism at the heritage body, said: “We’re always looking at new ways to enhance the visitor experience at our sites.

“This mobile app will add another layer to the Caerlaverock Castle experience, ensuring our visitors are both entertained and educated. With the recent success of our Knight at the Castle event, it’s evident there’s an appetite to see the best use of digital technology and entertainment integrated into what we offer at our heritage properties.”