Professional re-enactors Ruth Gilbert and Tim Jenkins using the replica medieval horizontal loom and winding quills at the Weavers House.
Medieval Coventry has been working in partnership with the Visualisation Group, WMG, at the University of Warwick to create a Virtual Reality, multi-sensory model of Spon Street as it would have looked in around 1500.
This industrial suburb was important for its weaving, dyeing and tanning crafts. The model will bring these activities to life, recreating the sight, sounds and pungent smells. It will do this by integrating the existing fourteenth- and fifteenth-century buildings and images of ‘lost’ buildings and adding authentic soundscapes and aromas.
We began by laser-scanning Spon Street, eliminating modern features such as street furniture, cars and buildings from the sixteenth century onwards. We then completed the medieval weaving part of the project, filming at the Weavers House [www.theweavershouse.org] and drawing on the skills of professional re-enactors Ruth Gilbert and Tim Jenkins.
We’ve since filmed medieval tanning at the UK’s only traditional tanning works in the Forest of Dean. The next stage is to incorporate this into the VR to show the various stages of processing the skins at the sites within Spon Street.
Future work will include medieval dyeing, which was a major industry in the area.
Virtual Reality can allow people to experience cultural heritage sites that have long since disappeared, evoking sights, sounds, smells and feelings and including motion and temperature. All combine to add richness to the experience.
The finished model will be made available to schools and museums in Coventry.