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Holyrood Palace - 1544


The Reconstruction

The abbey of Holyrood was founded in the twelfth century. During the late Middle Ages the monastery’s guest house gradually evolved into a royal residence. In the early 1500s King James IV ordered the creation of a new palace next to the original religious buildings. His son, James V (the father of Mary Queen of Scots), continued the building work, creating an impressive Renaissance residence. In May 1544 the English sacked both the palace and abbey. The Earl of Hertford, who commanded the English forces, boasted that he left Holyrood Abbey ‘wholly burnt and desolate’. Designed by the University of St Andrew's spin out company Smart History, Edinburgh 1544 provides a unique window into the capital around the time of the birth of Mary Queen of Scots. The app combines a top down view of 1544 Edinburgh with stereoscopic and 360 degree images to take the visitor on a journey of exploration.

Project Team


Sarah Kennedy, Iain Oliver, Bess Rhodes, Catherine Anne Cassidy, Adeola Fabola, Alan Miller

Specialist Advisors:

Richard Fawcett (University of St Andrews), John Lawson (CECAS), Bess Rhodes (University of St Andrews)


Ways to Access the Reconstruction


Research and Design

Historical Research

How the Reconstruction Was Made

A digital landscape was created using survey data and height map. Models were created in 3D modelling programs and imported into UNREAL (a cross-platform game engine for creating virtual worlds). The models were then scaled, orientated and assembled. The landscapes were populated with flora and fauna. Where applicable, models of characters and animals were imported and animated.