Moray 'Great escapes' guide

Moray's story comes alive in Great Escapes

A unique Moray travel guide is being made available to visitors via a mobile app after being developed by local schools and community volunteers.

'Great escapes Moray', an initiative led by the National Library of Scotland (NLS) and sponsored by Crerar Hotels, involved pupils from Lossiemouth High, Elgin Academy and Elgin High. A number of local people also took part.

They have suggested 20 of the best things to see in the area, including Ramsay MacDonald's birthplace, Elgin Cathedral, early reptile footprints, Pluscarden Abbey and the local whisky industry. Archive film clips, interviews with local people, audio, images, and text are all used to bring the content alive. Much of it comes from NLS's own archives.

'Great escapes Moray', which is launched tonight (March 22) at the Eight Acres Hotel in Elgin, is available as an app for iPhone4 and above, iPod Touch and iPad and can be downloaded from the Apple App store free of charge.

It features layers of historical maps from different time periods, revealing how the area has changed and expanded over time. The pupils also interviewed older people in the community about their memories of particular places. This included an interview with the grand-daughter of [former Prime Minister] Ramsay MacDonald, Iona Keilhorn.

The app is a modern, interactive version of the traditional tourist guidebook and provides a complete experience for the visitor with a selection of the best the area has to offer along with stories and memories of local people.

Martyn Wade, National Librarian and Chief Executive of NLS said: 'We have been delighted to work on this project with local schools and community volunteers to highlight the many attractions Moray has to offer to visitors.

'At NLS we are keen to make the best use of available technology. This is a great way to use our archive material to inspire local people to tell the story of their own area. We hope the app proves popular and helps to introduce many more people to Moray for many years to come.'

Fionna Shearer, Principal Teacher of Art at Lossiemouth High School, said: 'This activity has not only encouraged the pupils to discover more about their local area, it has enabled them to see first hand the variety of historical sights available to them. Many of the pupils have also discovered family connections.'

The 'Great escapes' concept was inspired by the 19th-century publisher John Murray who created the 'Handbook for travellers' series, some of the first-ever tourist guides to be printed, and whose archive arrived at NLS in 2006.

22 March 2012

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