A new application called ‘Virtual Time Binoculars’, allows historians to explore the old Edinburgh city in entirely new and exciting ways.
Launched by a group of academics from the University of St. Andrews, the app brings the original views of streets, marketplaces and churches as they may have been in the 16th century.
Created by the University of St Andrews’s spinout company Smart History, Virtual Time Binoculars: Edinburgh 1544 provides a unique window into the capital around the time of the birth of Mary Queen of Scots.
“It is striking how the cityscape is both familiar and different from the city today. Instead of the new town there stands a great loch yet the castle stands guard over the city much as it does now,” says Sarah Kennedy, Smart History’s Digital Designer.
The digital reconstruction is inspired by a drawing created by the English military engineer Richard Lee, who accompanied the Earl of Hertford’s May 1544 expedition. Lee’s drawing (now held by the British Library) is one of the oldest surviving depictions of Edinburgh, and became the defining English impression of Scotland’s capital.
“The Virtual Time Binoculars project is ground breaking for digital reconstruction because it uses technology already in people’s pockets. We have developed a software framework which will enable us to continue to send people back in time,” says Dr Iain Oliver, Head of Systems for Smart History.