28 February 2018 12:31

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A brand new web-based digital and virtual reality tour of Lancaster Castle has been launched by the Duchy of Lancaster working in partnership with the IT development team at Lancaster University.

Designed to provide an insight into parts of the Castle that are normally closed to the public, the new applications are available via links on the Lancaster Castle website and will also form part of the University’s iLancaster and City, Coast and Countryside apps.

The web-based digital tour, which can be accessed on any computer or mobile phone, incorporates floor plans, image galleries and a 360-degree ‘look-around’ facility with audio commentary, written descriptions and zoom-in.

It explains the original purpose of each of the main buildings, together with their history and heritage and has been created to provide ‘online visitors’ with a more in-depth knowledge of what the Castle has to offer.  

For those who prefer a more immersive experience, the new VR ‘walkabout’ is simple and straightforward to use.

By simply placing a mobile phone inside any VR headset or cardboard lens, ‘virtual visitors’ can take a tour of the Castle from wherever they are in the world.

They can venture down into the dungeons of the medieval Well Tower where the Lancashire Witches were held in 1612  or experience the Pentonville-style male penitentiary in A-Wing almost first-hand.

The new online resource was deliberately commissioned by the Duchy while some of the Castle’s buildings are closed to the public as part of the extensive conservation works currently underway.  

Commenting on the initiative, Duchy CFO and lead for Lancaster Castle Chris Adcock said: “We have always maintained that we want to open up as many of the Castle buildings as possible to the general public.

“These web and phone-based tours allow us to do exactly that and to give users a rare glimpse of areas of the Castle – and the prison – which have remained ‘hidden’.

“It is particularly important to us to be able to showcase all that the Castle has to offer while these major conservation works are underway.

“It also responds to the increasing number of overseas visitors and tourists visiting historic Lancaster from further afield.”

Head of IT Partnering and Innovation at Lancaster University Chris Dixon added: “The app and web-browser are packed with historical facts and figures which bring the Castle to life for the user. 

“We also felt that a VR tour would make an individual’s interaction with the Castle buildings more immersive and more personal as it’s a self-guided tour which the user controls.

“We are confident that people will really enjoy using these tools and that it will brings the Castle history to life even more.”

The Castle initiative evolved as part of the University’s engagement strategy which seeks to work more closely with people and organisations across the city and region.

A highly successful ‘City, coast and Countryside’ mobile application, promoting the beauty and benefits of the district, was created as part of the collaboration.

This came on the back of iLancaster, a free mobile app the University team developed to deliver information about the campus and local resources for and services to students.

To access the digital and VR tours, simply visit the ‘Buildings’ page on the Lancaster Castle website www.lancastercastle.com or download the free iLancaster or City, Coast and Countryside apps on your mobile phone.