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Thursday, March 31 • 10:55 - 11:20
S25-02 Using Google Earth applications to enhance public engagement with cultural heritage: An evaluation of Seeing Beneath Stonehenge

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Using Google Earth applications to enhance public engagement with cultural heritage: an evaluation of Seeing Beneath Stonehenge.

Kate Welham, Lawrence Shaw, Mark Dover, Harry Manley, Mike Parker Pearson

This paper discusses the nature of public engagement with Google Earth based heritage applications, and considers whether the full potential of this media has yet been realised. It focuses on an evaluation of Seeing Beneath Stonehenge (https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/seeing-beneath-stonehenge/), a free to use, Google Earth based application that was created from the wide variety of spatial data collated as part of the Stonehenge Riverside Project. The work was funded by Google, and aimed at creating a public platform where users could travel around the Stonehenge landscape examining a broad range of research results in-situ. Trench locations, findings and excavation images were included, along with broader landscape studies such as geophysical surveys and narrated tours of key monuments. 

We discuss the release, uptake and user feedback from Seeing Beneath Stonehenge. Web statistics are used to examine the use of social media in driving downloads, issues such as initial peak use and plateau, and the geographic distribution of users are considered. In particular we present the results of an online questionnaire that was aimed at examining how the application might have stimulated additional interest in the archaeology of Stonehenge and its wider landscape. Results were obtained from over 100 users, and the majority gave an overwhelming positive reaction to the application. Over 80% stated they were now more likely to visit the monument. We discuss the results, including ‘experience limiting’ factors such as technological familiarity. Finally we consider why Google Earth applications are yet to be fully utilised within archaeology, and their potential to appeal to a public with an insatiable demand for engaging and informative content.

Thursday March 31, 2016 10:55 - 11:20 CEST
Domus Media, Auditorium 13