Breathing virtual life into history of Aberdeenshire hill community

The history of a North-east landmark will soon be brought into the world of virtual reality, giving the public a glimpse of life in the 19th Century.

A free app will reconstruct Bennachie colony houses, as well as provide information about the individual families who lived in them.

The app – which is currently being created – will also include songs, stories and other tales of Bennachie.

Visitors to the site would be able to download the app to their phone or even go full virtual reality with the Google Cardboard headsets, which are inserted into a mobile phone.

Community group Bailies of Bennachie received a grant to create the app from the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Scottish Year of History, Heritage and Archeology.

It is expected to go live in the spring.

Jackie Cumberbirch, senior Bailie of Bennachie, said: “It will give people the understanding of what it was like in the 1860s and the lifestyle of the people that lived there.

“We hope to be able to give an in-depth history of the colonists and the archeology.

“It is really hard to see what it was like because there is currently nothing there and this will just be another creative way to explain the heritage in a more interesting way.

“There are lots of stories and legends of Bennachie so we have a lot to work with but it is a work in progress.”

The app is being made by Smart History, a company based at the University of St Andrews, and members of the Inverurie Youth Forum have also been involved.

They helped collate some of the historic information and documents for the app.

Dr Alan Miller, who is leading the project, said: “Nestled in the woods on the slopes of Bennachie can be found the remains of houses that once made up the colonists’ co-operative community.

“By creating a digital model of the 19th Century landscape and placing reconstructions of the colonists houses within it, the community is brought back to life.”