Virtual Avebury: exploring sense of place in a virtual archaeology simulation
Keywords:public engagement in heritage, sense of place, virtual reality (VR), henge monuments
AbstractThis paper describes and discusses creating and evaluating a virtual reality simulation of Avebury Stone Circle and Henge complex as it might have appeared and sounded circa 2300 BCE. Avebury is a Neolithic heritage site in the UK which is part of the Stonehenge, Avebury and associated sites UNESCO World Heritage Site. The overall aim of the project was to better understand the sense of place and presence that visitors can experience in virtual simulations of heritage sites. We investigated how virtual spaces might become experienced as places by visitors through their exploration, active participation, sensory stimulation and communication with other visitors in the simulation. More than 1200 members of the public experienced the simulation, both at Avebury itself and at three public exhibitions. The specific objectives of the project were to explore if and how the believability of a simulation was associated with feeling a sense of place in the virtual landscape, and if some personal characteristics, viz. age, disability, sex, immersive tendency, familiarity with IT and frequency of playing computer games, were associated with levels of enjoyment in, and learning from, the simulation. We analysed the data from a detailed questionnaire completed by 388 of the 702 visitors to Avebury from June to September 2018 who experienced the simulation, supported by observational data from all participants at all events. We found that believability was associated with a sense of place in the simulation, i.e. that the more believable the simulation appeared, the greater the sense of place experienced by the participants. We also found that personal characteristics had very little influence upon visitor reactions to the simulation, suggesting that such simulations might have wide appeal for heritage and museum visitors, regardless of age, gender or familiarity with technology.Highlights
- More than 1200 members of the public experienced a 3D, fully immersive simulation of Avebury Henge, Wiltshire, UK over a nine-month period.
- We found patterns of use and familiarity with information technology (IT), and using mobile technologies for gaming, that did not follow age and gender stereotypes.
- We found little correlation between age, gender and IT familiarity with reactions to Virtual Avebury, suggesting that such simulations might have wide appeal for heritage site visitors.
Agrawal, S., Simon, A., Bech, S., Bærentsen, K., & Forchhammer, S. (2019). Defining Immersion: Literature Review and Implications for Research on Immersive Audiovisual Experiences. In Proceedings of the 147th AES Pro Audio International Convention Audio Engineering Society (Convention Paper 10275, pp. 1-14). http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=20648
Bachen, C., Hernández-Ramos, P., Raphael, C., & Waldron, A. (2016). How do presence, flow, and character identification affect players’ empathy and interest in learning from a serious computer game? Computers in Human Behavior, 64, 77-87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.06.043
Bellotti, F., Berta, R., Gloria, A., Panizza, G., & Primavera, L. (2009). Designing Cultural Heritage Contents for Serious Virtual Worlds. 2009 15th International Conference on Virtual Systems and Multimedia. https://doi.org/10.1109/vsmm.2009.41
Ch’ng, E., Cai, Y., & Thwaites, H. (2018). Special issue on VR for culture and heritage: The experience of cultural heritage with virtual reality: guest editors’ introduction. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 26(3), iii-vi. https://doi.org/10.1162/pres_e_00302
Crane, N. (2016). The Making of the British Landscape: From the Ice Age to the Present. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.
Davis, D. & Calitz W. (2016). Finding Healthcare Support in Online Communities: an Exploration of the Evolution and Efficacy of Virtual Support Groups. Handbook on 3D3C Platforms (pp. 475-486). London: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-22041-3
Diemer, J., Alpers, G., Peperkorn, H., Shiban, Y., & Muhlberger, A. (2015). The impact of perception and presence on emotional reactions: a review of research in virtual reality. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00026
Earl, G. & Wheatley, D. (2002). Virtual reconstruction and the interpretative process: a case study from Avebury. In D. Wheatley, G. Earl, & S. Poppy (Eds.), Contemporary Themes in Archaeological Computing, (pp. 5-15). Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Falconer, L. & Scott, C. (2018). Phenomenology and Phenomenography in Virtual Worlds: An Example from Archaeology. In L. Falconer & M. Gil Ortega (Eds.), Virtual Worlds: Concepts Applications and Future Directions, (pp. 1-38). New York: Nova Science Publishers.
Fouberg, E. H., Murphy, A. B, & de Blij, H. J. (2020). Human Geography: People, Place and Culture, 12th edition. Hoboken NJ: Wiley.
Galeazzi, F. (2018). 3-D virtual replicas and simulations of the past: “real” or “fake” representations? Current Anthropology, 59(3), 268-286. https://doi.org/10.1086/697489
Gillings, M., Pollard, J., & Strutt, K. (2019). The origins of Avebury. Antiquity, 93(368), 359-377. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2019.37
Gil Ortega, M., & Falconer, L. (2015). Learning spaces in virtual worlds: bringing our distance students home. Journal of Applied Research In Higher Education, 7(1), 83-98. https://doi.org/10.1108/jarhe-02-2014-0026
Hampel, R. (2019). The Conceptualization of Time, Space, and the Body in Virtual Sites and the Impact on Language Learner Identities. In S. Bagga-Gupta, G. Messina Dahlberg, & Y. Lindberg (Eds.), Virtual Sites As Learning Spaces, (pp. 269-294). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-26929-6_10
International Principles of Virtual Archaeology (2011). The Seville Principles. Available at http://sevilleprinciples.com/. Last accessed 5/1/20.
Jerome, C. J. & Witmer, B. (2002). Immersive Tendency, Feeling of Presence and Simulator Sickness: Formulation of a Causal Model. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 46(26), 2197-2201. https://doi.org/10.1177/154193120204602620
Kim, K. J., Park, E., Shyam Sundar, S., & Pobil, A. P. (2012). The effects of immersive tendency and need to belong on human-robot interaction. Proceedings of the 7th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, Boston, MA. 207-208 https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/servlet/opac?punumber=6243995
London Charter. (2009). The London Charter for the Computer-based Visualisation of Cultural Heritage [online]. Available from: http://www.londoncharter.org/introduction.html
Magnenat-Thalmann, N., Kim, H., Egges, A., & Garchery, S. (2005) Believability and Interaction Virtual Worlds. In Y. P. Chen (Ed.), Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Multi-Media Modelling, (pp. 2-9). Melbourne, Australia. http://doi.org/10.1109/MMMC.2005.24
Mortimer, N. (2014). Stukeley Illustrated. 2nd edition. Stathe: Green Magic.
Office for National Statistics (2020). Population estimates for the UK, England and Wales, and Northern Ireland: mid 2018. At https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates. Last accessed 3/1/2020
Paillard, A. C., Quark, G., Paolino, F., Paolino, M., Golding, J. F., & Ghuylan-Bedikian, V. (2013). Motion-sickness susceptibility in healthy subjects and vestibular patients: effects of gender, age and trait-anxiety. Journal of Vestibular Research, 23(4), 203-209. https://doi.org/10.3233/VES-130501
Pollard, J. & Cleal, R. (2004). Dating Avebury. In J. Pollard & R. Cleal (Eds.), Monuments and Material Culture: Papers in honour of an Avebury archaeologist - Isobel Smith. Salisbury: Hobnob Press.
Pollard, J. & Reynolds, A. (2002). Avebury: the biography of a landscape. 1st ed. Stroud: The History Press.
Relph, E. (2008). Place and Placelessness. 1st ed. London: Sage.
Rosa, P., Morais, D., Gamito, P., Oliveira, J., & Saraiva, T. (2016). The immersive virtual reality experience: a typology of users revealed through multiple correspondence analysis combined with cluster analysis technique. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19(3), 209-216. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2015.0130
Scarles, C. & Lester, J.-A. (2013). Mediating the Tourist Experience: from Brochures to Virtual Encounters. In C. Scarles (Ed.), Mediating the Tourist Experience, (pp. 1-11). London: Taylor and Francis. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315594613
Statham, N. (2019). Scientific rigour of online platforms for 3D visualisation of heritage. Virtual Archaeology Review, 10(20), 1-16. https://doi.org/10.4995/var.2019.9715
Shanks, M. & Tilley, C. (1992). Re-constructing Archaeology: Theory and practice. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.
Smith, I. F. (1965). Windmill Hill and Avebury: Excavations by Alexander Keiller 1925-1939. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Taylor, J. & Gibson, K. L. (2016). Digitisation, digital interaction and social media: embedded barriers to democratic heritage. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 23(5), 408-420. https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2016.1171245
Tuan, Y. (1979). Space and Place: Humanistic Perspective. In S. Gale, & G. Olsson (Eds.), Philosophy in Geography. 387. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-9394-5_19
Turner, P., Turner S., & Burrows L. (2013). Creating a sense of place with a deliberately constrained virtual environment. International Journal of Cognitive Performance Support, 1(1), 54-68. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJCPS.2013.053554
How to Cite
This journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.