An Open Virtual Worlds project is allowing people in 2013 to go back nearly seven hundred years to explore one of Scotland’s most important medieval cathedrals. They have created a two-minute video that shows how the cathedral would have looked like in 1318, the year it was consecrated.
The Open Virtual Worlds group at the University of St Andrews, in collaboration with Professor Richard Fawcett, have used Virtual World technology to create an interactive reconstruction of the Cathedral. Users can create avatars who can enter the virtual Cathedral, where they can move around its hallways and rooms, interact with objects and even meet historic characters such as Bishop William de Lamberton, King Robert I, the Cannons of the Cathedral and visiting pilgrims.
In a paper that details the project, they explain:
The reconstruction process involved collaboration between computer scientists, archaeologists and art historians. It drew upon existing resources relating to the Cathedral: surviving architecture on site, architectural fragments both in the museum and reused throughout the town, the pre existing work of medieval architectural historians ,  along with architectural drawings and artistic impressions of the Cathedral’s original appearance. These resources were drawn upon to re-construct the Cathedral and surrounding buildings including the earlier church of St Regulus.
The project was originally envisioned as a learning tool for students. The real St.Andrew’s Cathedral is now a ruin – it was abandoned in the 16th century during the Scottish Reformation and most of the building has since collapsed. It is a now under the control of Historic Scotland and serves as an important tourist attraction.
Richard Fawcett explains, “From the historians perspective the reconstruction of the Cathedral involves both the mental reconstruction of modiﬁed and lost features, and the establishment of the range of ways in which buildings that represent a spirituality alien to modern times were intended to function. As such it offers an invaluable academic discipline for those involved in the reconstruction, providing eminently practical ways of testing theories and assumptions. It is then of the greatest value for conveying more widely the understanding that has been gained.”