projects

Ghosts of Nendrum App

Brief

To produce an educational mobile resource about Nendrum Monastery for KS2 pupils studying early Christian heritage.

Response

“Removing the artefacts from the monastic site has disturbed the spirits. Now nine ghosts haunt Nendrum and each spirit has a tale to tell. Explore the ruined monastery, locate each of the nine spirits and return the artefact to the right owner to put the ghosts to rest and unlock the secret of Nendrum.”

Meet the former inhabitants of Nendrum Monastery with the ‘Ghosts of Nendrum’ app. Nendrum is a ruined pre-Norman monastic site on Mahee Island on Strangford Lough that is thought to have been set-up by St Machaoi in the 5th century. This treasure hunt style game encourages young visitors to explore the atmospheric ruins, in search of the ghostly monks who recount their tales of the old monastery.

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Methodology/Approach

Nendrum Monastery is located on Mahee Island, Strangford Lough, and is regarded as the best example of a pre-Norman monastic site in Northern Ireland that still has ruins form the original buildings. Artefacts found during archaeological digs reveal the numerous religious and secular activities of the former monastic inhabitants. We used the concept of archaeology informing our knowledge of their lives as the basic narrative of the app. This translated to the removal of the artefacts disturbing the ghosts of past inhabitants and only the return of these artefacts can put the ghosts to rest.

We worked with NIEA and Ulster Museum to identify nine suitable artefacts and the possible owners of the objects. These profiles provided the character for our ghosts. A local writer wrote the parts for each ghost using rhyming couplets and this script was recorded with local actors in studio.

We used geographical co-ordinates to anchor the nine ghosts to specific locations around the monastery. GPS tracks the position of the user on their Android /iPhone, and when the user enters a region, the ghostly monk is triggered and played. The player must explore the site, locate each of the nine ghosts, listen to their tale and match the right artefact to the story. Returning the correct artefacts lays the ghosts to rest and reveals the secret of Nendrum.

The app is designed to provide an engaging way for individuals and small groups with Android and Apple devices to find out about the early Christian history of the Nendrum Monastic site. The game illustrates the importance of archaeology and demonstrates how uncovered artefacts reveal the past lives of a location’s inhabitants.

I produced and built the original Ghosts of Nendrum prototype while working as a producer in the BBC NI Learning Department. Due to the limitations on the number of apps published by the BBC, I was able to license the game to the NIEA. I rebuilt and published the game for Android and iPhone devices.

Links

Home Screen of Ghosts of Nendrum app.

Ghosts of Nendrum Available on the App storeAndroid app on Google Play

For: BBC/NIEA

Location: Nendrum Monastery, Co. Down

Nominations: original mediascape shortlisted for the Kieran Hegarty Interactivity Award at the Celtic Media Awards in 2010

Responsibilities: project management, research, narrative, storyboarding, trail development, game interaction, app design & production, user-testing, promotional material.

I have worked with Ellen on several projects involving NIEA sites, … and I have always found her to be very conscientious … ensuring her research is factually correct and demonstrating an attention to detail but always keen to include a fun element for children. The work … has been of a very high quality and pitched correctly at the intended audience.”

Gail Pollock, senior photographer, NIEA