Tourist guide goes interactive

4th May 2012 at 01:00
Moray pupils point the way in developing a novel navigation tool, writes Henry Hepburn

Moray schools have helped produce a mobile app to assist tourists in navigating the area. Great Escapes Moray involved pupils from Lossiemouth High, Elgin Academy and Elgin High, along with members of the public.

They suggested 20 of the best things to see in the area, including the birthplace of the first Labour prime minister, Ramsay MacDonald. Other choices were Elgin Cathedral, some early reptile footprints, Pluscarden Abbey and the local whisky industry.

Archive film clips, interviews with local people, audio, images and text bring the content alive. The project was led by the National Library of Scotland and sponsored by Crerar Hotels; much of the material came from NLS archives.

The app features layers of historical maps from different periods, revealing how the area has changed. Pupils interviewed older people about their memories of particular places, including Iona Keilhorn, Ramsay MacDonald's granddaughter.

Fionna Shearer, principal teacher of art at Lossiemouth High, says: "This activity has not only encouraged the pupils to discover more about their local area, it has enabled them to see first-hand the variety of historical sights available to them. Many of the pupils have also discovered family connections."

The app is designed as an interactive version of the traditional tourist guidebook. The Great Escapes concept was inspired by the 19th-century publisher John Murray, creator of the Handbook for Travellers series. These were among the first tourist guides ever printed, and their archive arrived at the National Library of Scotland in 2006.

The NLS holds more than 15 million items, including around 100,000 manuscripts, 32,000 films and 2 million maps. Every week it collects 6,000 new items.

Great Escapes Moray is available for iPhone 4 and above, iPod Touch and iPad. It can be downloaded from the Apple App Store free of charge.

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