Museum Without Walls

Learn how the Timespan project in Helmsdale is attracting visitors from across the globe, using digital technology to develop a Clearances Trail.

Learn how the Timespan project in Helmsdale is attracting visitors from across the globe, using digital technology to develop a Clearances Trail.

The Timespan Project, in Helsmdale, is attracting visitors from around the world, researching their ancestors who were involved in the Highland Clearances. The Museum Without Walls project has used cutting edge digital technology to develop an app for smart phones and tablets which take visitors on a journey along a Clearances trail.

The trail was developed with the help of the local community and starts in the museum, leading visitors along the Strath road to learn about its history and the events which took place there more than 200 years ago.

The app allows visitors to the museum to learn about the history of the locality at different points along the route as they travel; it is also a great resource for the virtual visitors at home who can access a wealth of information by downloading the app. 

The app takes users on a journey to ten locations along the Strath of Kildonan to learn about how the landscape has changed over time, especially since the clearances. Users can access audio narratives and browse though galleries of stunning images from the past to the present.

Visitors can follow the true story of the Macpherson family told through stirring and informative audio as well as text and images as they face eviction from their home and emigration to North America. 

The app also allows visitors to hear the voices of decendants of the Macpherson family and emotive contemporary poems, as well as traditional music. There is also a game which children can play as they travel along the trail, with QR codes located along the trail which can be scanned on a smart phone to collect virtual items. The app then tells the story of some of the items and when all 10 have been located, children can collect a prize at the Timespan Museum.

Timespan Director Anna Vermehren says; “We have had a great response from visitors who have tried the app and have been surprised by the wealth of information it provides. It is a great starting point to learn about the history of the area.

“This app is also a useful resource for people unable to visit the Highlands, as it is available to download at home. We hope that this way we are able to convey a real sense of the stories that are so precious to our people here and around the world.

“Through the in-depth research we have conducted developing the app, we can also often provide ancestral tourists with a personal service of finding out about their descendants, and often point people to exact locations and give them a real insight into the life of their ancestors.”

Ancestral tourism presents new and exciting year-round commercial opportunities, whatever the size, type and location of your business find out more about how to offer visitors a memorable visit by downloading the Tourism Intelligence Scotland Ancestral Tourism Guide.