Download English Heritage audio guides

English Heritage have introduced a new section to their website called “Free Sites Unlocked“, which provides audio tours for mp3 download. The tours are for their free sites (hence the imaginative name), adding a new dimension to unstaffed sites where the only information is via traditional interpretation panels, which can only incorporate a limited amount of information.

Of the 400 sites that English Heritage looks after, more than 240 are unstaffed and open to the public at all reasonable times. Free Sites Unlocked is a new English Heritage project seeking to improve the interpretation of these free sites. We are also improving our webpages by providing more information on the history of our sites and suggestions for further reading.

Although at the time of writing, there are only guides for three nine sites (including Baconsthorpe Castle, Maiden Castle, and Netley Abbey), this is a great move by EH. With so many people owning an mp3-capable device, from cheap mp3 players to iPods and mobile phones, and with the penetration of broadband into the majority of households, there is great potential for this medium.

EH say that they are also updating information about their unstaffed properties online. Personally, I’d love to see some social networking techniques being used to help visitors to those sites help build up this information by submitting text, photos and videos to augment ‘official’ information as well. But if English Heritage keep having their funding cut year on year, that might be wishful thinking.

Link: Free Sites Unlocked (English Heritage) – also consider filling our their questionnaire.

2 Responses to Download English Heritage audio guides

  1. Bridget McKenzie 17 March, 2009 at 5:50 pm #

    Any further thoughts on how they might go about using social network techniques to build up information about free sites. EH staff are very pressed as you suggest so their priority is simply providing basic information, not running participatory projects. But, does it take lots of money/time to do this or are there ways it could actually help them build capacity to provide interpretation?

    • Barry Young 28 February, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

      My wife and I use the mp3 files as a prelude to our visit to a location, the English Heritage initiative to publish on-line means we can start our visit early (before we arrive!) We spend hours in the car driving between locations, and feel we know the location before leaving the car. It doesn’t end there, images taken can have your mp3 file as a backing track when viewed, it gives an extra dimension to images, along with the brochure it becomes an aid to memory, a way to relive the visit. We have it running on the TV, it puts us and in some cases our dog into the frame. Something for the grandchildren to revisit when we have turned to dust.