Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 16:36 UK

Hi-tech centre brings abbey alive

An animatronic monk
Exhibits like an animatronic monk help to give a sense of atmosphere

Holograms, a virtual reality tour and 3-D goggles are being used to bring a 14th Century abbey back to life.

They are part of a new "interpretation centre" designed to explain in an interactive way what life was like at Valle Crucis Abbey, near Llangollen.

Visitors can take a virtual reality tour of the abbey in its heyday, with an animated monk as a guide.

David Crane, from Llangollen Museum, said: "People can now find out far more and in a user-friendly way."

Holograms

He added: "The virtual tour is short enough so that people don't become bored, and it really gives you a sense of how the abbey worked.

"The holograms are full colour - you'd swear blind the artefacts were there."

It's hoped the new interpretation centre will attract more families to the abbey.

Children using 3-D goggles
It's hoped facilities like 3-D goggles will attract children
"Because it's so hi-tech, all age ranges love it, but we're hoping the kids will enjoy it in particular," Mr Crane said.

The project is a collaboration between the museum and Cadw, the Welsh Assembly Government's historic monuments body.

It has been funded by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts.

Ruins

Sian Rees, from Cadw, said: "It's really important that our interpretation of monuments moves forward, so we really welcome this.

"Ruins are Cadw's speciality, and they can be quite difficult to translate into how they appeared when they were being used, so we do find this kind of technology particularly interesting."

The interpretation centre has been built in a former derelict cottage behind the abbey.

It houses interactive computers detailing a timeline of the abbey's history right up to the present day.

Visitors can browse the site's history, and get in depth details on specific periods and events through photographs of artefacts, and copies of documents and maps

There are also holograms giving a 3-D illusion of artefacts found at the abbey back in the 1950s and 1970s.


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