Virtually explore medieval sites in Wales this month

This year’s Open Doors festival in Wales is taking place virtually, allowing people to explore online 10 historic sites in the region, including medieval castles and abbeys.

Hosted by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, Open Doors is usually hosted each September and offers visitors free entry to hundreds of historic monuments, museums and unusual landscapes. It was cancelled this year because of the threat of coronavirus. In its place, Cadw has created virtual tours, hosted on its website and social media channels.


Created by Cardiff-based virtual-reality experts, 4Pi Productions, the experience-driven content makes use of 360° photography and scanning technology, which will allow users to control their journey around each virtual monument or historic site.

The festival’s digital experiences will be released weekly – they are:

Neolithic Tombs (Tuesday 1 – Sunday 6 September),

Castles of the South (Monday 7 – Sunday 13 September)

Abbeys and Ironworks (Monday 14 – Sunday 20 September)

Castles of the North (Monday 21 – Wednesday 30 September).

Those who tune-in to the digital celebration will be able to virtually experience a wide range of historical monuments, including Neolithic sites, Bryn Celli Ddu and Pentre Ifan, as well as an array of medieval monuments — from Raglan Castle and Tintern Abbey in the south, to Valle Crucis Abbey and Castell y Bere in the north.


Although some staffed Cadw sites have now re-opened, visitor capacities are limited and many properties remain closed — pending the installation of new health and safety measures. In order to avoid these on-site limitations, Open Doors Online will offer an alternative, digital way for past and prospective visitors to engage with Welsh heritage this September.

“Having previously collaborated with Cadw on a number of successful digital projects, we were delighted to help them create their own virtual and readily-accessible virtual Open Doors festival for 2020,” explains Matt Wright, Artistic Director of 4Pi Productions. “Blending new and emerging technologies with cross-media story-telling is at the heart of everything we do — and we couldn’t have imagined a better way to spend our ‘lockdown summer’ than capturing the sheer wonder, magnificence and phenomenal scale of Wales’s built heritage.”

Top Image: Raglan Castle – photo by Hugh Llewelyn / Flickr