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2.5 Digital Interpretation: Heritage Hotspots

Transforming the quantity and quality of interpretation content available at key sites.

Delivery Lead Organisation: BFER delivery team

We currently have four InfoPoint units across the BFER project area (and one portable unit), generating their own, local ‘off grid’ web that users can connect to via its Wi-Fi network in areas with poor signal and connectivity. They provide digital interpretation at often remote sites and remove the need for any paper or other physical guidance when exploring each site. As well as information and images they can also include audio recordings, videos and downloadable resources accessible as the site is being explored. All without having to use your data or download an app.

Our units are located at:

  • Ancient House Museum, Thetford
  • British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford
  • RSPB Lakenheath
  • West Stow Anglo Saxon Village

Initial locations for the Heritage Hotspots.

Heritage Hotspots

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West Stow Anglo Saxon Village: 52.310617, 0.637143
Ancient House Museum: 52.415175, 0.747156
RSPB Lakenheath Fen: 52.448080, 0.528910
BTO Thetford: 52.406435, 0.754303

 

More Information on each site:

Ancient House Museum

InfoPoint will be able to offer visitors additional depth of interpretation, the opportunity to tap into audio and video and further information will transform people’s experience and encourage people to return to the museum.

This project will offer visitors an engaging new experience to learn about the Thetford area, including the exhibition themes linked to the archaeology and social history of the riverside settlement.

In the long term, the facility will allow the museum to update content without the expense of going back to exhibition design suppliers offering museum staff the ability to update content for new exhibitions and offer opportunities for involvement in others by providing themed tours, and a generally more accessible experience to a wider audience.

British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford

The BTO’s Nunnery Lakes Reserve is a County Wildlife Site which lies to the south of Thetford between the Rivers Thet and Little Ouse. It follows a series of lakes created by old gravel workings, and contains a rich variety of Breckland habitats within a relatively small area. The Nunnery Lakes Reserve comprises lakes, rivers, woodland, grassland and meadows. You can find many wildlife species, including Kingfisher, Barn Owl, Oystercatcher, Water Vole, Otter and dragonflies. Visit the viewing platform to enjoy a peaceful and panoramic view of the reserve, or follow the marked woodland and riverside trails for a different ambience.

This project will enable the provision of information about the reserve, the work being undertaken and the wildlife present on the site and observable from the viewpoints.

Lakenheath Fen RSPB reserve

InfoPoint will enable the provision of information about the reserve, the work being undertaken and the wildlife present on the site and observable from the viewpoint where it will be installed.

Mobile phone signal strength is poor at Lakenheath Fen so access for smart phone users is restricted.  The site has some out of date fixed interpretation at both view-points but a Wi-Fi hotspot will provide the opportunity to provide much more current information to visitors about the reserve.  In addition, being part of a partnership project, the access point can yield information on the wider project and the public rights of way network and link things together for our visitors.

Barn owls are a charismatic species that are very popular with visitors but are not often seen unless at dawn and dusk.  The addition of a camera would provide visitors with the chance to view the owls at close quarters, without disturbing them, and throughout the day.  The technology also allows for recorded highlights to be stored.  These could then be displayed in the visitor centre and on the web.

Having additional information available at the viewpoint would enhance the visitor experience, particularly when we are not able to provide a volunteer at this location doing live interpretation.

Subject to monitoring and review, if successful, particularly with the barn owl cam RSPB will look at extending the network to provide coverage of common cranes during the courtship and breeding season.  Cranes are another charismatic species which visitors want to see but they are nervous birds and very susceptible to disturbance.  The InfoPoint system will allow units to be linked to enable remote coverage of the crane breeding territories with additional points back to the visitor centre, potentially creating live video of the cranes back in the visitor centre.

West Stow Country Park and Anglo-Saxon Village

The Anglo-Saxon Village struggles to provide on-site interpretation due to its visual intrusiveness.

This project will immediately enable a more coherent connection between the museum collections and the reconstructed Anglo-Saxon village (200m apart). The content will include archaeological maps and key finds locations, images of living history (as costume interpretation is infrequent), self-led tours and audios of previous archaeologists. Additional information will help put the site in context with the larger landscape using the latest evidence. Images from the collections will describe the 10,000 years of history timeline and will be made fun for younger audiences with quizzes and tips.

 

These 4 outdoor locations will also present an opportunity to support walks and trails and wider access information including maps and heritage information supplied by the county Rights of Way teams, linked to BFER access outputs including;

Information regarding the linear route and connecting circular routes on the River Lark.

Further details on the history of the river, particularly in relation to the former navigation and tow path.

There will also be information regarding the biodiversity and requirements for the Special Protection Area.

Overview

Project Update

In September 2022 we awarded the contract to Wessex Archaeology and InfoPoint.

The first workshop was arranged for Friday 28th October at West Stow Country Park and hosted by Ian Atkins from Wessex Archaeology and Dan Boys from InfoPoint. Dan demonstrated the wifi hotspot equipment and Ian discussed the heritage interpretation content generally and with each partner.

Partners submitted their content and design ideas for interpretation panels and digital content.

Our launch event will be on Wednesday 17th July 2024 where each site will be visited by:

  • BFER Board members
  • BFER Project Leads
  • Dan Boys – WildFi (Creator of InfoPoint)
  • Local Politicians
  • Lottery
  • Norfolk Rivers Trust
  • The Press
  • Visit Norfolk
  • Visit Suffolk
  • The Wildlife Trusts

Aims/Objectives

To transform the quantity and quality of interpretation content available at key sites in the project area.

Providing digital interpretation access at remote sites in the BFER project area using stand-alone Wi-Fi transmitters.

To enable Digital content to be accessed at BFER engagement events, greatly increasing the resources available to participants and helping to raise awareness of the scheme and wider opportunities for involvement.

Summary

The project will transform the quantity and quality of interpretation content available at key sites and will be promoted to other scheme partners and heritage providers in the project area through launch events and information sharing opportunities.

This project will provide (at least 5) digital (InfoPoint) visitor interpretation points for remote heritage sites in the projects area. Visitors will be able to connect to these points with smart phones or tablets as if they were browsing the public web, and access or download interpretation content.

The new interpretation provision will include a wide variety of heritage interpretation information including videos, oral histories and audio tours as well as quizzes, games, images and schools’ packs, much of which has previously only been available on a limited basis, or off-site on the internet.

If you’d like to get involved in this project contact us for more information: bfer.admin@suffolk.gov.uk

Resources

Links to how to videos can be found here: Info Point How To Videos

 

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