Urquhart Castle

Location: Inverness, Scotland

The first Historiscope was installed on the 13th of September 2021 and saw our ideas come to flesh at Urquhart Castle, Scotland!

The Challenge

SENSEcity collaborated with Historic Environment Scotland (HES) on an R&D Project to create new Immersive Heritage Experiences after winning the Creative Informatics (CI) Challenge Project in 2020.

The challenge was to develop a new product that would allow visitors to engage more directly with a monument from a specific outdoor viewpoint by delivering a range of content, including historical, reconstructed, or inaccessible views. Their R&D priorities were to:


The site chosen to create this outdoor device was Urquhart Castle. After the first site visit between HES and SENSEcity, the viewpoint chosen was right outside the visitor experience center overlooking the Urquhart Castle and the foreground landscape, which would act as the playground to create the AR Experience.

During this phase, we aligned the vision and goals for the project to guide the device’s R&D and design.

Christopher Muniz, Visitor Experience Project Lead at Historic Environment Scotland, says:  We are excited to see SENSEcity responding to our challenge of using AR sensitively within the historic environment. The project aims to enrich our visitor’s sense of place while using technology to broaden their perspective.


Our historical research took us from Pictish hillforts to potential sieges in the name of freedom, right through to Jacobite uprisings. As is the case with a lot of castles, we would always hear about warfare. Both our partner HES and we were keen on looking at a snapshot of everyday life beyond the wall or in front of it, as was in our case!

So as it stands, we started by looking at the warfare on the site. We then move toward building a picture of the castle in times of peace, which arguably would have been most of its unwritten history, which then led us to review archaeological findings at the site. We decided to focus on Castle Toun, showing everyday life during the 15th century.

Design strategy

The need for an evolved user experience to engage with users within a historic site led HES to put out an innovation call.

We at SENSEcity answered, pitching the new-age telescope. This device gives you a snapshot of a particular moment, thus merging new hardware design with visual reconstructive AR experiences. We proposed merging AR software, with the hardware design process, in a new way within the Heritage sector.

We worked around four design principles to create a frictionless journey for the visitors.


so the experience would not require any downtime to wait in line, gear up, or download an app.


so the experience can be both comprehensive and inviting. We designed a self-contained experience so that the visitor does not require to bring along their own external devices or software.


so the experience creates an engaging and immersive experience giving them a snapshot of history.


so the experience doesn’t require the user to read complicated instructions or learn complex new interfaces. We believe that Intuitive, naturalistic behaviour should be all that is required to interact with the augmented world.


We installed the Historiscope in September 2021. After about 48 hours of calibration and internal testing, we were ready for users to come and test it and share their feedback.


Immersive experiences have the potential to extend audience footprint and deeply engage a heritage audience, supporting social inclusion and enhancing economic impact. 

The Historiscope at Urquhart Castle has demonstrated that visitors feel more connected to a place, its history, and culture through such an MR viewer. We believe that scaling to other sites will help audiences feel a part of a shared community. 

The demo’s content allowed people to relate culturally and immerse themselves in historical culture. We linked cultural elements, including the Gaelic language, the game of shinty, and plaid tartan from the past, with the present so that the user could see a continuation of society in an informal yet informative way. 

Next Steps

The project was further funded by Innovate UK, which enabled us to develop the internal hardware and software. The next prototype of Historiscope was tested at Stirling Castle. To find out about the Stirling Castle case study, click here.

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