What We Did For The Romans - Verulamium To Go Hi-Tech

By Tom Briggs | 19 April 2004
Shows a photograph of the ruins of a Roman theatre. Two circular walls surrounding an inner wall leading to a pillar in the distance.

Photo: now in ruins, Verulamium was once one of the most significant towns in Roman Britain. © English Heritage.

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An EU grant of around £96,850 is to enable a St Albans museum to bring visitors an enhanced view of the past.

Verulamium Museum is set to benefit from the introduction of wireless technology, thanks to the Information Society Technology (IST) Programme, which is part of the European Union’s Framework Programme.

The Cultural Heritage Of St Albans (CHOSA) project aims to provide people with a virtual experience of the Roman city of Verulamium.

Thanks to computer and mobile phone technology, visitors to the Roman Park will soon be able to enjoy a wireless tour, and participate in an interactive online game.

Shows a photograph of a man dressed as a Roman soldier.

Photo: a Roman soldier on patrol at Verulamium. Courtesy St Albans Museums.

"This will allow us to reach new users and audiences, whether it is for leisure or educational purposes," said Alison Coles, a spokesperson for St Albans Museums.

"At the same time it will preserve these sites for future generations," she added.

The technology will see text and audiovisual material sent to visitors’ mobile phones or PDAs as they walk through the grounds. As the majority of the ancient city is underground, this will inform the experience of visitors, enhancing their understanding of what life was once like.

Because of the way the technology operates, users will be able to keep the information after leaving the site.

Shows a photograph of Verulamium Roman Museum. To the left of the image there is a wall comprised of glass windows and columns, which leads to a short, round tower.

Photo: soon visitors to Verulamium Museum will be able to connect with the past through their mobile phones. Courtesy St Albans Museums.

Peter Walters, UK representative of the IST programme believes that this initiative highlights the importance of technology to unlocking the secrets of the past.

"Historical and cultural institutions could bring to life thousands of ancient sites throughout Europe," he said. "Imagine the voice of an ancient Roman or Greek talking about Pompeii or the ruins at Delphi or Olympia."

Verulamium came into existence during the late Iron Age, and became a wealthy provincial town, one of the most significant in the Roman Empire.

The museum already boasts a range of displays, from the some of the finest mosaics outside the Mediterranean to touch screen databases.

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