• New RoadTour GPS tour guide provides travellers with a running audio commentary on the events, locations and monuments that shaped British history
• The launch comes as research shows that one in ten 18-24 year-olds think Stonehenge is in Norfolk and six in ten think the Globe theatre is in Stratford upon Avon.
A new GPS tour guide that alerts motorists to Britain’s greatest historical sites as they drive near them is set to spark fresh interest in our heritage as well as transform journeys for tourists. Invented by history enthusiast Daniel Taylor, the RoadTour software works with Global Positioning (GPS) equipment to trigger audio commentary and pictures of 600 key attractions, including castles, stately homes and battlefields.
The low-cost software responds to satellite prompts as cars approach places of historical interest throughout the UK, delivering fascinating information narrated by a friendly female voice through the SatNav. It means motorists will no longer remain oblivious to the cultural treasures around them as they cruise along Britain’s roads.
The guide is launched today for hire or download, as new research commissioned by RoadTour shows that a quarter of people think Leeds Castle is in Yorkshire, rather than Kent, one in ten that the Romans built the A1 and 10 per cent of 18-24-year-olds that Stonehenge is in Norfolk. A further 38 per cent of all those questioned by YouGov believe that Hadrians Wall is in Scotland, not England.
Five years in the making, this invention fulfils Daniel Taylor’s passion for history and his desire to help Britons as well as tourists use technology to get the most out of our heritage. Ironically, GPS technology has perhaps until now put us out of touch with roadmaps and chance discoveries en route.
“RoadTour will help restore our knowledge and understanding of the history of this amazing country and will also provide tourists with the perfect companion when driving around,” said Daniel, managing director of RoadTour.
“GPS make it easy for us to get from A to B, but perhaps in the process we’ve lost touch with the history that surrounds us. A friendly reminder, which tempts us into exploring heritage as we’re driving, seems to me to be altogether a good thing.”
The software package features a total of 600 sites in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each has an average 90 seconds of commentary, researched and written by a team of 12 amateur historians. There’s at least one picture of each place, plus opening times and prices where relevant.
Examples of the commentary include this snippet about Charlecote Park, near Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire: “It is easy to believe the stories of a young William Shakespeare poaching deer at Charlecote Park. It is reputed that he was given a beating by Sir Thomas Lucy - in return for which Shakespeare ruthlessly mocked Sir Thomas in a satirical verse which he stuck on the landowner’s gate. This time coincides with a ten year period in which Shakespeare made a mysterious disappearance only to re-emerge 10 years later in London.”
Noting that the gardens at Bowood House, Wiltshire, were designed by the eminent eighteenth century landscaper Capability Brown, the guide says: “So determined was he to create a grand design for the Wiltshire countryside surrounding this stately home, that he submerged a village in the process.
He created the centrepiece, a 45-acre lake, by damming a nearby stream and flooding a village called Manning’s Hill. The story goes that he simply had the buildings taken apart and the inhabitants re-housed elsewhere.”
Daniel Taylor hit on the idea for RoadTour five years ago while walking round the Roman baths in Bath with his wife. “We were listening to one of those walk-around hand-held audio guides which really bring the history to life and I got so absorbed that I very nearly walked away with it,” he said. “I felt truly inspired and began wondering about other heritage attractions nearby.”
“It struck me that it would be great to have an audio guide in the car, alerting you to all the historical sites in the area. At the time the technology wasn’t really there, so I chewed on it for a few years and honed the concept. It’s only during the last year that the devices have become powerful enough to make it happen.”
“We hope our guide will tempt people to pull off the motorway or A-road and visit some of the wonderful sites which have helped shape Britain’s history. But even if they don’t, their journeys will be enlivened and filled with interesting stories and snippets about the country through which they’re travelling.”
The RoadTour Heritage software is available to download from www.roadtour.co.uk and retails for £19.95. It is also available to rent with a GPS unit for Tourists travelling in the UK.