Virtual Avebury was part of a nine month project looking at the role of virtual reality as a way to help people better understand heritage sites. Virtual Avebury was built as accurately as possible and called on the latest research to produce the final images and soundscape. The research was carried out by Bournemouth University in partnership with Daden Limited (a 3D simulation development company), Satsymph (a consortium of sound specialists) and the National Trust. The project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The project aimed to develop a simulation that could be experienced as an on-screen virtual world, a visual and auditory landscape on mobile devices, and as a fully immersive visual and auditory experience for visitors using 3D headsets and haptic (touch) devices. A particular focus was the sense of place and presence that visitors can experience through interaction with the environment and with other visitors, and how those virtual interactions affect their understanding of, and reactions to, Avebury today
Satsymph (Phill Phelps and Ralph Hoyte in this case) researched and built the sound environment for the virtual Avebury simulation. Visitors could experience the simulation through a set-up in the Great Barn. This involved wearing a virtual reality headset and earphones which allowed them to ‘walk’ or ‘fly’ through the virtual henge, great stone circle, the two smaller circles and the newly discovered square monument. The simualtion also gave an idea of just how deep the ditches and how high the banks were when originally built.