07 November 2017

New technology unlocks stories from England's past

Previously unseen artefacts, rarely opened archaeological stores, and hard-to-see masterpieces are now available to explore online thanks to a new partnership between English Heritage and Google Arts & Culture.

The Battle of Hastings by Frank Wilkin is photographed at Battle Abbey

The Battle of Hastings by Frank Wilkin is photographed at Battle Abbey

Curious history lovers can now explore the places, objects and stories in the care of English Heritage in exciting new ways. 

Thanks to a partnership with Google Arts & Culture, thousands of rooms, objects and artworks have been photographed and catalogued, and their stories told through new and immersive online experiences.

Using the latest digital technology, the stories of 29 English Heritage places across England - from Tintagel Castle in Cornwall to Hadrian's Wall - are now brought to life through videos, high-resolution photography and 360-degree tours.

Matt Thompson, Head of Collections at English Heritage, said:

"In our new role as a charity, English Heritage is looking for innovative ways to open our sites to the public and share their fascinating stories with them. Now thanks to Google Arts & Culture's technology, we've been able to bring people closer to our historic masterpieces than ever before, open up our storehouses to a global audience, and showcase hitherto unseen artefacts."

Amit Sood, Director of Google Arts & Culture, said:

"England has such a rich, diverse, and interesting heritage - spanning literally centuries. English Heritage has done such an amazing job in preserving iconic art and sites, allowing us a glimpse into what life was like in a different time. Google Arts & Culture are proud to partner with English Heritage and use the power of technology to share these wonders and stories with a global audience."

John Glen, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism said:

"Our #CultureIsDigital project aims to harness the creative potential of technology to increase awareness and engagement in our world-class cultural organisations. The collaboration between Google and English Heritage is a perfect example of how the heritage and tech sectors can work together to present our history and culture in new and exciting ways. It showcases the richness and variety of our cultural heritage to the world and demonstrates how we can enhance the experience and share new stories using digital technologies." 

WATCH THE LAUNCH VIDEO

Thousands of treasures to explore

Highlights of the new collection of places and artefacts include:

Wrest Park Collections Store, Bedfordshire

Google's Street View has now unlocked the Aladdin's cave of 160,000 historical artefacts at Wrest Park, allowing the public to wander the store's aisles and discover fascinating objects such as a Roman sculpture of the goddess Venus from Wroxeter Roman City, a medieval stone corbel originally from Rufford Abbey in Nottinghamshire, and a 19th-century wood and iron tower used to change the electric lamps in London's Covent Garden Market building.

J.W. Evans Silver Factory in Birmingham

In Birmingham, people can now use Street View to remotely explore the labyrinthine corridors and workshops of the Victorian J.W. Evans silver factory, normally only open by pre-booked guided tours.  

Kenwood House, London and Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire   

Photographed by a gigapixel camera, Antonio Zucchi's magnificent 18th-century ceiling paintings at Kenwood House and the 17th-century painted "Elysium" ceiling at Bolsover Castle are now revealed in ultra-high definition, enabling people to see their exquisite detail for the very first time.

1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield, East Sussex

Frank Wilkins' vast 1820 painting of the Battle of Hastings hangs - largely unseen - within the private school on the 1066 battlefield. Now shot by Google's Art Camera, this monumental 6m x 8m depiction of the most famous battle in English history can be seen with ultra-high definition zoom by anyone, anywhere via Google Arts & Culture.     

Discover the stories

Two artefacts from the Wrest Park Collections Store: Left, Covent Garden Market Tower and Right, Medieval Stone Corbel.

In total, 29 of English Heritage sites are showcased on the Google Arts & Culture platform with brand new editorial content for all of them. Stories include the fire that ruined Witley Court in 1937; Art Deco technology and luxury at Eltham Palace; the rediscovery of Rievaulx Abbey in the 1920s; the bombardment of Whitby Abbey during the First World War; and the preparations for nuclear war at York Cold War Bunker.

Explore the collection for yourself on Google Arts & Culture

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