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The Sounds of St Kilda – An Immersive Virtual Voyage into the Past

This year, 2017, is the year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, and to celebrate World Heritage Day Immersive Minds partnered with the team at DigIt! 2017 to recreate the Island of St Kilda in Minecraft. The Minecraft build was one of six projects co-ordinated by DigIt!2017 celebrating Scotland’s Six UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Stephen Reid, Director of Immersive Minds and the team behind the build wanted the underlying theme for this project to be about inclusion in learning.

“Given that St Kilda is so remote, and often inaccessible at certain times of the year, we wanted to use technology to enable learners of all ages, from anywhere in the world to visit St Kilda and explore it’s history for themselves.”

The Minecraft map of St Kilda is topographically accurate built at 1:2 scale, highlighting the sheer cliffs, rocky shore and awe-inspiring sea stacks that make this island so difficult to approach by boat. Through the magic of technology, visitors to the Minecraft world of St Kilda are able to teleport back to seven different eras and explore how people lived, worked, farmed, worshiped and governed themselves in, what is considered, a shining example of an egalitarian society. In each of the eras, visitors can approach people from the past, and listen to their stories about life on St Kilda. These oral histories, are a novel addition to the Minecraft Map.

“We wanted to create a very real and personal experience for those visiting the Island. We hope that visitors to the world, including teachers, parents and children will be able to learn about the history of St Kilda by interacting with people and hearing real stories from a variety of periods in the past.”

The voices used to tell the oral histories in the map were recorded during a visit to the Western Isles on World Heritage Day. Among the volunteers were Maggie Smith from Isles FM, Morag Maclean and Amy Macaulay from the Mnathan Lacasdail Choir, and Coinneach Mac a Ghobhainn and Calum Mac Neacail from BBC Radio nan Gaidheal, and Minister for International Development and Europe Alasdsair Allan.

The St Kilda Minecraft Resource is the fourth in a series of interactive education worlds created as part of the DigIt! 2017 Crafting the Past project. The team at DigIt! 2017 are committed to ensuring that their work has a legacy far beyond the projects themselves, and have made all of their Minecraft learning resources freely available for download from their website. The St Kilda Map can be downloaded for free from here.

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