projects

Siege! at Carrickfergus Castle App

Brief

To create an interpretive mobile resource about Carrickfergus Castle for KS3 History students studying the Anglo-Normans. 

Response

It’s 1315, Robert Bruce has defeated Edward II at Bannockburn and now his brother, Edward Bruce, is making his way to Ireland to attack Anglo-Norman strongholds; get ready to defend the castle …

Siege! At Carrickfergus Castle app brings the 1315-16 Edward Bruce Siege of Carrickfergus Castle to life. Produced in collaboration with NIEA, this interactive mobile app is located at Carrickfergus Castle and uses interactive role play to explore Anglo-Norman military strategy and defensive architecture of the castle. The app contains atmospheric audio and video re-enactments set in the grounds of Carrickfergus Castle to create an engaging and immersive learning experience.

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Methodology/Approach

Carrickfergus Castle was established on the shores of Belfast Lough in 12th century by the Norman de Courcy family. It was the Earl of Ulster’s seat of administration, and its occupation was key to a successful campaign in Ulster. We chose the story of the 1315-16 Edward Bruce siege of the castle as it provided a tangible and engaging example of Norman military strategy and demonstrated the defensive architecture of the castle. A role-play narrative featuring real-life characters from the siege was used to bring the Norman history of the castle to life for teenage visitors.

Extensive historical research of Norman and Scottish military strategy was necessary to give an in-depth understanding of the Normans in Ireland, Scottish and Norman siege tactics and medieval methods of attack and defence. This research enabled us to determine the narrative and structure of the game. The game play was developed and the narrative divided into chapters and optional scenarios. Each scene was then scripted and storyboarded for filming and/or interaction.

The Earl of Ulster, Richard De Burgh sets his mission to the user – to become constable of the castle and defend the stronghold against the invading Scottish army. Users must survey the castle and assess its defensive capabilities using on screen quizzes. Then select a suitable military strategy to rebuff a Scottish attack, deciding how to deploy their men at key defensive positions around the castle in the face of one of six possible attack scenarios. This defence strategy is then played out using video clips containing living history re-enactments. If the player successfully defeats the Scottish attack they are rewarded with a chest of gold and a knighthood.

We filmed the Scottish attack and Norman defence scenarios in Carrickfergus Castle with historical re-enactors from Irish Arms during a two day shoot. An additional day’s filming was required to film the Richard de Burgh, Red Earl of Ulster’s pieces-to-camera. Videos resulting from the players selections were then arranged and played out in sequence using code.

Links:

CIIF Funding Arts council and DCAL logos

Supported by the Creative Industries Innovation Fund

Postcard used to promote Siege! at Carrickfergus Castle app.

Siege at Carrickfergus Castle is available on the App storeSiege at Carrickfergus Castle Android app on Google Play

For: Creative Industries Innovation Fund/NIEA

Location: Carrickfergus Castle, Co. Antrim

Platform: iOS/Android smartphones

Responsibilities: project management, research, narrative, storyboarding, trail development, script writing, game interaction, illustration, filming/editing, photography, app design & production, user-testing, promotional material.

Nominations: shortlisted for the Kieran Hegarty Interactivity Award at the Celtic Media Awards in 2013.

“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