Digital archaeology weekend is runaway success

The New Forest’s first Digi Arc weekend proved hugely popular, with hundreds of children and their families joining experts for a weekend of gaming and archaeology.

More than 850 people attended the event to discover how researchers have used cutting edge technologies to bring the forgotten history of the New Forest to life.

The weekend was organised by the New Forest National Park Authority and held at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst. Visitors tried their hand at a range of activities:

  • exploring virtual reconstructions of archaeological sites found in the New Forest and immersing themselves in augmented reality worlds
  • experiencing virtual reality through Oculus Rift goggles and through their phone with Google Cardboard
  • viewing 3D models of shipwrecks, produced the Maritime Archaeology Trust
  • creating their own Minecraft archaeological model and having them judged. The best over the weekend won a personalised map, courtesy of Ordnance Survey.

The Digi Arc weekend also provided visitors with a last chance to see the popular exhibition Shedding Light on the New Forest’s Past. It charted the high tech approaches to discovering archaeology taken in the National Park and attracted more than 15,000 visitors.

The exhibition covered the work of the Verderers of the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship scheme – a habitat restoration project run by the Verderers, New Forest National Park Authority, Forestry Commission and Natural England.

Diana Edwin from Totton, who visited the event with her son Xander, said: ‘My 10 year old really loved coming to the Digi Arc weekend and seeing all the laser mapping images and the local landmarks you had created in Minecraft.

He has been inspired to look online at the laser mapping images for our favourite walks in the Forest and create some more historical buildings in Minecraft, possibly starting with our house!’

Lawrence Shaw, Heritage Mapping and Data Officer, said: ‘I’m delighted at how popular the event was. The use of new technologies and computer games have really allowed us to bring the history of the New Forest to life and hopefully inspired a new generation of digital archaeologists. We hope to run similar events in the future so keep an eye on the National Park Authority website and our twitter account for more details.’

The Digi Arc weekend took place on 16 and 17 January and was kindly supported by Ordnance Survey, Bournemouth University, Maritime Archaeology Trust and Wessex Archaeology.

To find out the winners of the Minecraft competition and see behind the scenes of archaeology in the New Forest, follow @NewForestArch on Twitter.


Notes to photo editor:

Seven year old Luke Alexander from Dibden who produced a Minecraft model of the Rufus Stone near Brook.