Where's the Minecraft then?

Fiona and Bryony from Scotland's Urban Past and Stephen Reid from ImmersiveMinds came along to Dunfermline on Saturday and Sunday to start us off on our project to recreate medieval Abbot House in Minecraft.

Submitted by Dunfermline Young Archaeologists' Club on 12-10-2016 18:03:55

Saturday

Is that Minecraft I see dimly before me?Is that Minecraft I see dimly before me?

Fiona and Bryony from Scotland's Urban Past and Stephen Reid from ImmersiveMinds came along to Dunfermline on Saturday and Sunday to start us off on our project to recreate medieval Abbot House in Minecraft. We met in the GlassRoom in Pittencrieff Park and whilst there were certainly a couple of laptops in the room, no one, except Stephen very, very briefly, got anywhere near  Minecraft.

So, what on earth were we doing over the weekend? Well, any building project, whether in the real world of brick and stone, or in the virtual world of Minecraft's 1m blocks, requires careful planning. Where do the walls go, how long, how high, how thick; where are the doors and windows and what do they look like? Recreating a historic building that has been considerably mucked about with over the centuries requires even more planning. 

Costumes chosenCostumes chosen

On Saturday YAC members got down to the important task of planning their own Minecraft characters; the avatars who will do all the work in Minecraft Dunfermline. They spent time thinking about who would have lived in late medieval Dunfermline and what clothes they might have worn.

After lunch we carried out what archaeologists call a desk-based survey. We pondered long and hard over old maps and photographs; evidence from Abbot House's past. We tried to tease out what we could about the building when it was new.

The photograph was taken during the excavation of 1992. The dark ground  at the front of the photograph is the rubbishy remains of medieval Maygate. Can you make out the rectangular, blocked window that once looked out onto that same street? 

Notice too that the very bottom of the wall sticks out? The team in 1992 thought this showed that the front wall of Abbot House had been built over the foundation of part of the wall that once went right round the monastery lands.

The front of medieval Abbot House, revealed in 1992, now an inside wallThe front of medieval Abbot House, revealed in 1992, now an inside wall

Sunday

Recording the monastery wallRecording the monastery wall

On Sunday we carried out the next part of our survey. We went out and looked. Remember the stones of the old wall on which Abbot House stands? As it happens, a tiny fragment of the monastery wall still survives not far from Abbot House, so we went to take a look. The front of the wall on Canmore Street is not so very impressive. We measured, we drew, we made a few notes. Then we went to look at the back of the wall. Tall isn't it?

Abbot House, the medieval wall hidden behind a white vanPart of the medieval front wall of Abbot House, just visible

We tried to take measurements of Abbot House too, but there was building work going on, so we couldn't get close enough. Even so, once back at base we were able to create a blueprint for medieval Abbot House based on our research over the two days. Now all we need to do is build it in Minecraft. Simple!  

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