15 Minutes… Higher Uppacott
Think Dartmoor; think epic scenery – jaw dropping vistas, majestic crags, and rolling hills bathed in purple heather dotted with ponies. Equally as stunning though, is Dartmoor’s historic built environment, which is every bit as important as it’s fabulous archaeology, and right now, work is underway on one such place that can rightly be defined as a ‘gem’ to make it more accessible to the public.
Higher Uppacott is a Grade I listed Medieval Dartmoor Longhouse – a place where both people and animals lived. The jewel in its crown is definitely the unconverted shippon (an area used by animals) which essentially remains unaltered since medieval times with original floors, walls, and an open view to the thatched roof above.
We are all used to visiting the grand stately homes and palaces of the gentry, but homes of ‘ordinary’ people are far fewer, and Higher Uppacott would have been the home of an ordinary yeoman.
To overcome the challenges that a building like this presents in terms of limited and controlled visitor numbers being necessary for the preservation of the fabric of the building, Dartmoor National Park are collaborating with several departments at the University of Plymouth to develop Higher Uppacott as an interactive environment or gamified digital space. To create the game environment, the whole building has been scanned using laser and 3D scanning, backed up by photographs. Once inputted into a computer, this will enable the students to create the game space which will allow users to appreciate and understand the building and the medieval period in a unique way.
The game is in development so will hopefully be available later in the year – we can’t wait to give it a go!
The profile of the project is being raised further by the involvement of Channel 4’s Time Team. The programme makers are currently working on short films and are particularly interested in collaborative projects combining new technologies and with a community aspect to them – their 11 minute short film on YouTube about Higher Uppacott is well worth a watch and offers a fascinating insight into the project.
Part of the story of human involvement on Dartmoor over the centuries from the earliest Bronze Age hut circles to the last castle built in England, longhouses in particular are part of Dartmoor’s cultural heritage so it’s really exciting to see how Higher Uppacott is being preserved for future generations in a thoroughly modern way.
Find out more and watch the full video at www.dartmoor.gov.uk/enjoy-dartmoor/places/higher-uppacott
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This manageable there and back route offers easy walking and wheeling along the eastern side of the reservoir and to the dams, plus additional access to the wildlife trail in the Burrator Arboretum