(University of Exeter, Bristol, UK)
Keywords: site specific, stone circle, interpretation, Neolithic archaeology, outdoor archaeological site
For my dissertation (MA Archaeology for Screen Media, University of Bristol), I produced an app to research the potential and effectiveness of site specific mobile applications as interpretative tools for outdoor archaeological sites where it is not possible to provide standard site interpretation (i.e. display boards, visitor centre, etc.) nor access to mobile network (3G/4G) is guaranteed.
The Rollright Stones (Oxfordshire, UK) are a unique group of three monuments formed by a stone circle and two monoliths dating back to the Neolithic Age, nowadays strongly imbued with archaeological, legendary and spiritual values. Unfortunately, the remote and unguarded nature of the Stones constitute a strong deterrent to the reestablishment of permanent installations and the appointment of internet connection devices.
The site-specific Rollright App -produced using the free online platform AppFurnace (Calvium) and available for download via QR code, is not geo-located so it can be used also in a ‘armchair’ modality. Using a simple interface, the app provides visual and audio insights about the archaeology, history and folklore of the Stones. For each monument it includes pictures of the excavations and the finds, as well as didactic simple visual comparisons with similar monuments in the UK. Featuring also audio contents such as folktales and brief tour of the site, the app is appealing to young users and friendly for visually-impaired visitors.
With the aim of covering the broad spectrum of visitors’ differing expectations, the app presents a layering approach to the contents allows different grade of engagement, which has received an enthusiastic welcome –in particular families and school groups. Being minimally intrusive and yet easily accessible, the Rollright App allows the visitors to gather information about the site in an enjoyable and personalised manner without spoiling the under-stated nature of the Stones.