British Archaeological Association’s Digital Tour Competition 2021 Winner & Highly Commended Tours

Inspired by the difficulties in visiting churches and other historic sites during the Coronavirus pandemic, The British Archaeological Association is looking at ways of promoting the use of digital technology to allow them to be seen even during a lockdown, or for those far distant. The Association held a competition to produce a short video/photographic presentation of a Roman or medieval site (a building, ruin, even a town) using remote mapping and imaging systems such as Google Earth, or Google Earth Studio.


Pevensey Castle and Roman Fort in Sussex

By Dr Richard Nevell

Pevensey is the kind of site you can lose yourself in; the ruins are wonderful to explore and there are so many stories to be told about its past. In creating the tour, I tried to make the most of that sweep of history, from the 3rd to the 20th century. It explores key events that shaped the physical remains of the fort and castle, and links to further digital resources such as articles and 3D models of objects discovered during excavations at Pevensey. I’ve been researching the site over the last few years – first for English Heritage and later independently. There are seemingly endless lines of inquiry but what has occupied me most recently is trying to work out whether King John slighted the castle in 1216. Reaching an answer has involved disentangling the history of the site – working out which bits fell down when – and creating a tour followed on quite naturally. Most importantly, it was an opportunity to (digitally) revisit one of my favourite castles!

Highly Commended Tours

Abergavenny Castle: A Tale of Conquest, Betrayal, and Resilience

By Megan Kirkpatrick and Jonathan Lim

We explore the fascinating and turbulent history of Abergavenny Castle – one of the most important strongholds built by the Norman invaders in south Wales. From its foundation in c.1087, through to the present-day, Abergavenny Castle has had an important role to play. Inspired by the potential of digital media and the increased functionality of certain platforms, we made use of ESRI’s Storymap service to take visitors on a virtual tour of this medieval monument. This not only increases the accessibility of the Castle (especially in the Covid-19 context), it highlights the historical and archaeological relevance of the surrounding landscape, something which is overlooked (often for practical reasons) when ‘real life’ visits are made to heritage sites. Exploring the relationship between landscapes and castles in Wales is the subject of Meg’s DPhil research and the integrated use of spatial analysis techniques underpins both authors’ research projects.

Bellapais Abbey in Cyprus

By Azra Say-Otun

The Bellapais Abbey is a Medieval monastery complex on the north coast of Cyprus. Its architecture is generally considered exemplary of Lusignan Gothic design; yet with the tour I wanted to trace as much of the life history of the site beyond this as I could, since all its experiences are a palimpsest in its current state. Having lived near the Abbey, and seen it from various angles, I wanted to bring forward its idiosyncrasies as well, be it the view of the Taurus mountains across the sea on a clear day, the stories told by the corbels in the chapter house, or mysterious artefacts repurposed from surrounding ancient sites. I hope those who take the tour will also be amused by the way curious physical aspects of the Bellapais Abbey connect to its history, and think about them if they one day amble through the cloister or listen to music recitals within the refectory.

The Tower Houses of Lecale

By Dr Duncan Berryman

Tower houses are small, fortified residences of the later Middle Ages. They were the centres of manorial holdings, lordly residences with associated agricultural complexes. However, today they generally stand isolated in fields, having lost their surrounding buildings. County Down’s tower houses, and particularly those in Lecale, form an interesting collection of monuments. They are almost entirely found close to the coast, with very few inland. There is an especially dense group in the Lecale region of County Down. This area also has a unique group of gatehouse style tower houses, these tower houses had two turrets on their front joined by a large arch machicolation at roof level. Their location by the coast suggests that the tower houses of County Down were involved in trading produce from the countryside with ships arriving in Ulster.

Vicars’ Hall and Vicars’ Close at Wells

By Philip Hickman

As a Wells Cathedral Guide, Philip Hickman has a particular interest in Vicars’ Close. With relevant views as are available in Google Earth and those supplemented by his own photographs, this project briefly outlines the history of the Wells Cathedral Vicars Choral: their college (1348 – 1936), their hall, and their purpose-built dwellings  and chapel as laid out in Vicars’ Close.


Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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