A proposal for Historic Scotland

A new way for visitors to experience buildings of the past, this proposal has been put together by my wife Elspeth (a graphic designer) and me, Jonathan (an architect). We both use technology to improve lives and visitor experiences in buildings across Scotland. This page outlines the way we propose to use an emerging technology in partnership with Historic Scotland, to create a new way for visitors to experience buildings of the past…


…in a fun, interactive and educational way!


1. Background and introduction

Historic Scotland recently partnered with Google’s Street View to launch a collection of 360-degree interactive images across many landmark sites of Scotland. People all over the world can see and explore the beautiful and iconic places of Scotland in a new way, including remote places they may never have discovered on their own. Embracing new technology will result in increased awareness of existing sites, an improved visitor experience, and added revenue.

There is an as-yet untapped potential to push this technology even further and provide a fun, interactive way to learn about the history of Historic Scotland’s sites. 

Imagine giving each Historic Scotland visitor their own immersive, 360-degree interactive experience, allowing them to stand in the beauty of a ruined building and then be transported back to its heyday. All that’s needed is an inexpensive Google Cardboard apparatus, the Historic Scotland App and their smartphone.


“Visitors often ask, '…when are you going to refurbish the Great Hall? Are you going to add the roof back?’ To do so would ruin a building we wish to preserve. Your proposal… is a non-invasive, exciting way to show our visitors exactly how the Hall would have been in its prime.”

-Laurens, Linlithgow Castle


2. Proposal and implementation

On a recent day out at Linlithgow Palace my wife and I were inspired to imagine exactly how the Great Hall once looked, so I paced out measurements and began building a digital model of the how the building might have appeared around 500 years ago. I based this on the information board at the site as well as by looking at the recent restoration of a similar space at Stirling Castle. 

I created a 360-degree interactive visual showing the Great Hall in its prime: vast wooden ceiling whole once again, rich tapestries on the wall, a roaring fire in the hearth and two long banquet tables loaded with a medieval feast fit for a king. I realized that this would be an enjoyable and educational way for other Historic Scotland visitors to experience the Palace, and there’s a simple and inexpensive way to do this: by providing the 360-degree visual via an App that can be downloaded to smartphones or tablets. The experience is further enhanced when paired with the new Google Cardboard 3D Virtual Reality sets.

The desktop prototype is below to click and look around (but should be experienced on a smartphone using Google Cardboard to realize its full potential!)

I call this Project V.I.P. (Virtual Interactive Panorama). It’s a fitting name because it allows visitors to witness the Hall in its prime through the eyes of a very important person… such as Mary Queen of Scots herself! 


3. Benefits for Historic Scotland giftshops

Historic Scotland’s existing App is used by tourists from all over the world. An extra ‘Google Cardboard’ icon would allow them to download the VIP experience directly to their phones.

Why not stock Google Cardboard in the giftshops of Historic Scotland sites? At £5-£10 each they are cheaper than most books or could even be hired on a per-visit basis, much like an audio guide at museums and galleries. Due to their simple and inexpensive construct, these would could also serve as visitor souvenirs, branded with Historic Scotland’s logo, and could be used again at any of Historic Scotland’s other sites.

Click HERE to learn more about Google Cardboard!


4. What comes next?

I would love to have the opportunity to show Historic Scotland what this technology can do for visitors to Linlithgow Palace.

From my own experience in visiting the site and asking tourists for feedback, visitors are enthused and excited. After all, it’s an unprecedented way to experience history! My ideal outcome would be to team up with Historic Scotland to create 360-degree interactive visuals for other rooms within Linlithgow Palace, provide Google Cardboard sets for rent in the giftshop and then let visitors enjoy using the technology. Historic Scotland could then decide if there are other sites that would benefit from the same thoughtful, creative, imaginative and educational treatment.


Thank you!

Jonathan Thomas and Elspeth Maxwell



Thank you for your consideration! All Information, ideas and visuals embodied in this business proposal are strictly confidential and are supplied on the understanding that they will be held confidentially and not disclosed to third parties without prior written consent.