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Last Updated: Monday, 5 September 2005, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
GPS technology for history lesson
Student Awen Williams with one of the palm computers
Awen Williams says she likes to find things out for herself
Sixth formers are to use global positioning systems to show tourists historic sites in a Denbighsire town.

The history students at Ysgol Brynhyfryd will be equipped with palm-held computers showing Ruthin's historic buildings via GPS.

Data will be accessible via the computers close to sites when students act as tour guides later this month.

The A-level pupils have already digitised documents found among the archives in the town gaol.

"What this project is doing is linking history with new technology," said Robin Powell from the school.

"The idea is that you press a button in front of an historic building and all the information comes out, about who lived there and what was going on there and when."

"The pupils have been carrying out research in the Archive and Record office. It fits in with their A-level studies because half the paper is about looking at documents."

Nantclwyd House
Visitors will be allowed a sneak preview of Nantclwyd House

"It also fits in to what the Archive and Record Office wants to do - by helping to attract trade to the town."

The up-to-date history lessons from part of Open Heritage Month in the Vale of Clwyd. The focus on Ruthin will be on the weekend of 16 and 17 September.

Students will use their palm-tops to show visitors historic buildings including the former Lordship Courthouse, which was built in 1401, a year after the town was sacked during Owain Glyndwr's ultimately unsuccessful rebellion.

Also open for viewing will be the 15th Century Grade 1-listed Nantclwyd House, which is undergoing a 600,000 restoration programme.

Kevin Matthias, County Archivist and Heritage Officer, said it was an "exciting and innovative project" which could be rolled out to other places.

"When you walk up the street with the computer you will have the street moving along as you walk and little blue dots will appear."


"Say for example, you're outside the Eagles Hotel and you tap on the blue dot, the photograph and the documents that the students have discovered will pop up. There might be an advert for it in the 19th Century, that sort of thing."

"It helps the Archive Service get to a younger audience and it breaks down the barriers so that they can come in and use archive sources without any mystique."

Awen Williams, 17, said the project had involved a lot of skills combining historical research and IT.

"I don't like to just listen to other people. I like to find things out for myself. It makes history more appealing to people and it brings the subject alive."

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