Follow in the Footsteps of Kings with new Fife reality experience

John Murray demonstrates the app at Ravenscraig Castle, Kirkcaldy.
John Murray demonstrates the app at Ravenscraig Castle, Kirkcaldy.

Have you ever fancied firing a castle canon at a pirate ship in the Forth? Or throwing tennis balls at ghosts within the walls of a historic Fife palace?

Well, now is your chance to have a go at both by downloading a new app and taking part in an augmented reality experience in Fife.

John Murray shows how users can fire cannon at pirate ships in the Forth using the new app.

John Murray shows how users can fire cannon at pirate ships in the Forth using the new app.

In The Footsteps of Kings is an exciting project which is allowing locals and visitors alike to trace the steps of historic royals in the Kingdom.

The scheme, which officially launched today (Friday) in the Lochore Centre in Lochgelly, involved the creation of an augmented reality app to bring the region’s rich royal history to life, giving visitors of all ages the chance to take part in activities at six specially-chosen locations as part of the project’s first phase.

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The app guides people along the royal trail and interacts with them at Ravenscraig Castle, Lochore Castle, Aberdour Castle, Falkland Palace, Falkland Estate and Markinch Church.

Participants are invited to learn more about the location’s royal connections through the augmented reality content on a smartphone or tablet.

Falkland Palace

Falkland Palace

Led by Ann Camus, tourism partnership manager at Fife Council, said the augmented reality project has been in development for over a year. Believing that a trail would be more engaging as an augmented reality experience rather than a promoted route on a website, a programme of activity which focused on various sites across Fife was developed.

Ann explained: “There was originally an idea for a trail back in 2013 by the Heartlands of Fife Local Tourist Association members.

“They wanted to feature sites in Fife as part of a trail and identified various sites to cover. With our support, this concept evolved into developing the augmented reality app, which was taken forward by a steering group formed for the project.

“In order to make the idea a reality, I submitted an application to Scottish Enterprise Destination Development Fund which was successful in June 2018. We received £90,000 funding.”

Local youngsters at Fife schools won coveted prizes to be involved in the augmented reality app, In the Footsteps of Kings, including the voiceover of a Jester which will narrate the trail throughout the Heartlands of Fife.

Local youngsters at Fife schools won coveted prizes to be involved in the augmented reality app, In the Footsteps of Kings, including the voiceover of a Jester which will narrate the trail throughout the Heartlands of Fife.

She continued: “There is a project board involved in the creation of the app which features representatives from Fife Tourism Partnership, Fife Council, Historic Environment Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, Markinch Heritage Group, Donald McKenzie from Clan McKenzie Tours, Drew Shedden from Cluny Clays and Brian Gorton, treasurer from The Heartlands of Fife Local Tourist Association.”

Sharon Wyness, CEO and co-founder of AliveLab, which produced the app, said: “We couldn’t be more proud of the way this project has come together. Merging the newest augmented reality technology with the heritage and beauty of the historic sites in the Kingdom of Fife, has been an exciting and ground-breaking project that has also been a lot of fun.

“We hope that the mix of the traditional and digital will encourage families to visit and engage with the exciting stories that surround the area in the first project of its kind in Scotland. The app gives plenty of information on the local areas to help families enjoy everything from a cup of tea or an ice cream, to planning a mini break around visiting these wonderful sites.

“All credit to Fife Tourism Partnership for their forward thinking with this innovative project.”

Aileen Lamb, tourism and creative economy manager, Scottish Enterprise said: “Scottish Enterprise is delighted to see this innovative new digital product aimed at increasing visitor engagement with Fife’s rich history.

“Our grant was awarded following a strong collaborative bid from Fife to the Scottish Enterprise Tourism Destination Development Fund. This initiative has a clear target audience and opportunity to drive new revenues into the region’s tourism sector. The use of augmented reality will allow people of all ages, but in particular the valuable family market, to become immersed in the culture and stories of the places they’re visiting.”

The In The Footsteps of Kings project also involved youngsters from Fife schools who were invited to take part in competitions for the chance to become the voiceover for the app’s lively Jess the Jester and design the character’s clothes. Balwearie High School drama student Cerys Paton (S4) stood out with her energetic voice so she was chosen to be the voiceover for Jess and was awarded first prize, taking home an Android tablet.

The winner of the competition to design the Jester’s clothes was P4 pupil Cameron Robertson from East Wemyss Primary School. Cameron’s use of vibrant colours earned him first place and an Android tablet.

Councillor Ian Cameron, chairman of the Heartlands of Fife Local Tourist Association, said: “With the widespread use of mobile phones and computer games it is important to make heritage and history accessible using the latest technologies. In the Footsteps of Kings is a fantastic opportunity to bring our historic sites to life in a fun and engaging way for locals and visitors, and encourage more people to visit Fife.”

John Murray, tourism officer for the partnership, explained how the app works at two of the sites.

He said: “When you get to Ravenscraig Castle and load up the app, the narrator, Jess our friendly Jester, tells you to scan the image on the information board and a cannon will appear on the ground in front of you.

“You then have to load the cannon, in the correct order, light it and then fire it. A telescope appears which you will look through and see a pirate ship which you then have to fire the canon at to sink it.

“Once you have done that, you receive an achievement recognition from Jess the Jester, who then gives you some additional facts about Ravenscraig Castle.

“You then stamp your location which shows you have completed it. From there, you can go on to the next location and take part in more fun activities.

“Falkland Palace is home to the world’s oldest tennis court and here we are using virtual and augmented reality, as Mary Queen of Scots speaks to the user and encourages them to hit all the ghosts which appear with tennis balls.”

He said the app has been designed to appeal to families and children aged three to 13.

He added: “We look forward to hearing from visitors and locals about their experiences exploring Fife with In the Footsteps of Kings.”

The app is free to download to smartphones from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon apps.

To find out more information please visit the website: www.welcometofife.com/highlight/new-augmented-reality-app.