Councillors take virtual tour of Northampton Castle as part of group’s bid to protect site

Borough councillors were given a chance to try on a new virtual reality helmet which takes them on a tour of Northampton Castle in the 13th Century. Pictured is Labour councillor Les Marriot.

Borough councillors were given a chance to try on a new virtual reality helmet which takes them on a tour of Northampton Castle in the 13th Century. Pictured is Labour councillor Les Marriot.

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Around 30 borough councillors were given a tour of Northampton Castle using a virtual reality headset - as part of a bid by a local heritage group to keep the site protected.

The Friends of Northampton Castle and local company Pixel Creative Technologies have worked together to create an interactive 3D scene from the Great Hall of the ancient building during a St Stephen’s day feast in 1216.

The reconstruction, viewed through a virtual reality headset which allows the user to physically look and move around the castle, aims to allow people to experience the ambience of a 13th century Norman castle.

Last night members of Northampton Borough Council tried the 3D tour before a full council meeting at the Guildhall.

Chair of the friends group Marie Dickie, said the event was about getting the councillors in support of plans to make the former castle site by Black Lion Hill into a heritage gateway.

The friends’ group has been fighting for a park to go on the site for a number of years, but Northamptonshire County Council has plans to develop the land for housing.

Northampton borough councillors will be invited to take a 3D tour of Northampton Castle on Monday, as part of a local group's bid to keep the site protected.

Northampton borough councillors will be invited to take a 3D tour of Northampton Castle on Monday, as part of a local group's bid to keep the site protected.

Mrs Dickie said: “I think the question for the councillors was - is this something that you think people will be excited about and interested in?

“If that’s the case isn’t is better to make the most of that site as a park and make it available for people to be able to interpret the history of our town?”

Leader of the authority Councillor Mary Markham took the virtual reality tour and said “It was fabulous.”

She commended the Friends of Northampton Castle group on creating the experience.

Marie Dickie at the site of the old Northampton Castle near Black Lion Hill. ENGNNL00120120405154527

Marie Dickie at the site of the old Northampton Castle near Black Lion Hill. ENGNNL00120120405154527

However on the matter of the land itself, she said the authority was in talks with the county council about its plans for housing.

She said: “We support Marie and John (Dickie) on the site and the history of that area.

We are working with the county council to ensure we realise the dream John and Marie want to bring to that site.

“Northampton has a lot of historical interest but we need don’t shout about it enough.”

Mrs Dickie said the friends’ group is looking to work with Northampton Museum and Art Gallery in the future and Pixel Creative Technologies is in the process of developing the virtual reality tour for a smartphone app.

For more information of the work being done by the Friends of Northampton Castle, head to: www.northamptoncastle.com