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Search launched to compile 100 stories to write the 'autobiography of the Highlands' as part of the regeneration of Inverness Castle

By Scott Maclennan

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The hunt is on for 100 stories to tell the Spirit of the Highlands to be featured in the multi-million pound regeneration of Inverness Castle.

Run by Highlife Highland, the project invites Highlanders themselves send in their stories through online submissions to create what has been dubbed the “autobiography of the Highlands.”

The aim is to turn the castle into a world-class tourist attraction that helps not just Inverness but also inspires visitors through the stories to explore and experience the rest of the region.

The portal for story submissions, which went live earlier today, will be available until at least the end of October. Even if a story goes unused in the castle it will be preserved as part of a digital archive for future generations.

The campaign is accompanied by a video to promote the venture featuring locals from across the region alongside more recognisable names like musicians Julie Fowlis and Arthur Cormack.

Creative director of the spirit of the Highlands Bryan Beattie underlined that they want stories that have personal resonance, rather than an academic slant, to try and bring the area to life for visitors.

“The castle is to be a visitor attraction not a museum so it has to engage people emotionally and stories do that,” he said. “It is about things that touch people. It is about landscape, food, stories, people – a real richness.

“We know the big events and people of history. The sort of stories we are after are the sort of stories you would share at a Ceilidh, what would someone say about their grandfather who worked on the dams or something like that.

“It is getting a more personal take on it, from the smells of peat smoke, or the smells of people flipping burgers in Wimpy in Dingwall, wee stories that bring the area of life.”

Project director Fiona Hampton said the stories will be presented through virtual and augmented reality as well as through physical artefacts.

“We have arrived at Spirit of the Highlands in 100 stories because we are trying to encourage tourists to come to the Highlands and when they come to the Highlands to explore, to go on a journey,” she said.

“The aim is to give enough information in the castle to make people want to go and actually experience physically what they saw.

"A lot of the web-based aspects of this is to try and create those journeys in the minds of potential visitors.

“So for example, if the stories are coming in with a particular theme we can use that to say if you are interested in that then that journey can take them all across the Highlands. The clear aim of the project is not just to attract visitors but also to push them to other areas too."

The stories will go through an interpretation process involving local artists.

Ms Hampton said: “One of the things that seems to fascinate people about the region is the stories of the region, it is so rich in its stories that we want to tell them within the castle in spaces that are challenging but interesting and fascinating.

“As some of the stories come in they will be selected to go to commissions and so the first layer of interpretation will begin done by local artists. There will be other interpretations, first of all using geographic panels to resonate with each area.

“Right through to the end where 100 stories will be selected and interpreted by an expert panel with a focus on tourism and culture and we will engage with specialist designers on the actual final interpretation of how they will be presented in the castle.”


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