Sheffield Castle brought to life in Augmented Reality thanks to University of Sheffield, National Videogame Museum, and creative agency Human

July 15, 2019 – A collaboration between researchers from the University of Sheffield and the National Videogame Museum in the UK has brought Sheffield’s lost castle to life using augmented reality.

A virtual model of the castle, based on research led by Professor John Moreland from the University’s Department of Archaeology, has now been installed in the new National Videogame Museum in Sheffield city centre.

Initially launched for a three week period last year, the augmented reality experience has been put on display in the museum after attracting thousands of visitors during the University’s Festival of the Mind.

The AR experience, which has been developed as part of an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project led by Professor Dawn Hadley – in collaboration with Sheffield creative agency, Human, the University’s Department of Archaeology, School of Architecture and Department of Computer Science – is the most accurate visual representation of the castle ever produced, and enables people to see and explore the castle in detail.

Professor John Moreland said: “This reconstruction is based on our extensive research on the archaeology and archives of Sheffield Castle, and demonstrates the power of augmented reality to make the past accessible. We believe that it could play a major part in displaying the rich history of the site uncovered in the recent excavations by Wessex Archaeology.”

Steve Maddock, from the University’s Department of Computer Science, also highlighted the way in which the University’s work on Sheffield Castle has given its academics an opportunity to engage the public with their research on AR.

Carolyn Butterworth, Senior University Teacher in the University’s School of Architecture, said: “The School of Architecture is working on a long-term co-production design process with Sheffield City Council, University colleagues, local groups and organisations to develop a community-led regeneration of the site of Sheffield Castle, informed by the heritage and social history of Castlegate. Through bringing the medieval castle to life in its modern context, this augmented reality project is incredibly useful as a tool to engage people in the past, present and possible futures for this fascinating part of the city.”

Sheffield Castle was one of the most powerful castles in the north of medieval England before it was almost completely destroyed following an act of Parliament at the end of the English Civil War in 1646.

Nick Bax, Creative Director of Human, added: “We’re delighted to be able to present our virtual recreation of Sheffield Castle in the National Videogame Museum alongside such inspiring and important pieces of digital history. Experience Castlegate blends the past with the present, while giving visitors a glimpse into the future of creative technology.”

The National Videogame Museum, located in Sheffield, is a cultural centre dedicated to videogames. The museum also created Pixelheads – an education programme for young people to talk about what games mean and how they are made. The museum has been recognised by the Arts Council of England, Creative England, Creative Scotland, UK Young Artists, the British Library and many others as a leading proponent of videogame culture.

Abi Kay, the National Videogame Museum’s General Manager, said: “We’re so excited to be hosting this fantastic installation in our galleries this summer. We always welcome opportunities to celebrate the brilliant work going on in Castlegate, and we can’t think of a better way to do this than through bringing together the area’s rich history with the brilliant videogame technologies the National Videogame Museum exists to share.”

The Experience Castlegate AR exhibition was launched at the National Videogame Museum on Friday 12 July, 2019, and can be seen there throughout the rest of the summer.

Video and image credit: Steve Maddock/YouTube/University of Sheffield

About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he covers news articles on both the AR and VR industries. He also has an interest in human augmentation technology as a whole, and does not just limit his learning specifically to the visual experience side of things.