HIE and St Andrews – Working with island communities on use of digital to help preserve and promote their local cultural heritage

28 February 2020 - Published by Anna Grude
As part of the CUPIDO Interreg project, HIE in collaboration with St Andrews University and Orkney’s North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme (NILPS) organised a digital heritage skills workshop which took place, last month, in Kirkwall, Orkney.

The workshop brought together cultural heritage organisations located in Orkney’s North Isles; with representatives from Westray Heritage Centre, Papay Development Trust, Shapinsay Heritage, Arts and Crafts, Sanday Heritage Centre, Stronsay Development Trust, Stronsay Heritage Group, North Ronaldsay and NILPS.

Through CUPIDO, St Andrews is developing a VR project designed to link heritage organisations across Orkney’s North Isles to help promote and market their unique cultural offering. The  purpose of the workshop was to agree on a theme for the VR project. Consensus agreed on the theme of Coastal Waters as this takes in a wide range of subjects such as Vikings, shipwrecks, maritime heritage, herring industry, all of which are relevant to Orkney’s North Isles cultural heritage. Professor Alan Miller (St Andrews University) also facilitated a practical skills session on using 360 degree cameras. There is now an ‘ask’ of all organisations to film their local cultural heritage centre and local historical sites, with film material relating to the agreed theme of Coastal Waters. Further workshop, to be held in May, bringing everyone together again to present film material gathered, which will be used to develop the digital design for the VR exhibit.


Many thanks to Judy Callister (Scapa Flow Museum) and Francesca Couperwhite (HIE Orkney Area Team) for organising a site visit to the Oil Tank at Scapa Flow Visitor Centre. As part of the CUPIDO Interreg Project, St Andrews University is working with Scapa Flow Museum, located in Lyness, Orkney to develop VR experiences relating to the importance of Scapa Flow as a naval base during WW1 and WW2. One of the exhibits relates to a remaining oil tank at Scapa Flow. During Wartime Scapa Flow was a main fueling station for the navy. 16 oil tanks were built, of which only one now survives, as pictured above.

St Andrews University is to develop a digital reconstruction of the oil tank that will include its incredible inside acoustics. The other VR exhibits relate to St Andrews collaborating with Dundee University to develop a VR exhibit of the underwater shipwrecks at Scapa Flow, and a digital reconstruction of the naval base at Scapa Flow during Wartime. All of which will feature in the new Scapa Flow Museum when it opens next year.

For more information, please contact Ann Marie in HIE’s Communities Infrastructure Team –