Eyemouth fort has become a virtual reality for visitors

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Eyemouth’s Kirk Square will be transformed into a 16th century Borders village this Saturday to launch the museum’s new 3D image that brings Eyemouth fort to life.

Visitors to the museum can now watch a guided tour of the reconstruction and ‘play’ the fort via an Xbox controller, walking around the fort and touching on interactive points, gaining access to further information on the history of the fort.

Little was known about Eyemouth Fort until recently, something local resident Fiona Glover was determined to do something about, particularly as its position on the headland makes it susceptible to erosion.

St Andrews University and SCAPE (Scottish Coastal Archeology and the Problem of Erosion) were alerted and the rest is history - come to life.

“I contacted Scottish Borders Council’s archaeologist and explained my concerns about the fort and he put me in touch with SCAPE and the St Andrews University team who are doing incredible things,” said Fiona.

Using archaeological data from the site of Eyemouth fort and historical drawings, a team from the University have recreated a model of how the fort stood in the year 1557.

The model is now up and running in Eyemouth Museum and is filled with interactive information points, giving access to information, from the archaeological survey data, history and images of the fort, to how people at that time were dressed and what they were eating.

Building started in 1547 by the English, at a cost of £1,906 and under the guidance of Sir Richard Lee, a military engineer, who was later instructed to replace Berwick’s medieval walls in 1558.

It was partially demolished under the Treaty of Boulogne in 1550 then rebuilt again by the French, several years later by d’Oisel.

In the spring of 1558 letters were sent out “ordering (under pain of death) all bakers, brewers and tapsters within the towns of Edinburgh, Leith, Musselburgh, Newbattle, Dalkeith, Preston, Prestonpans, Haddington, Aberlady, Dirleton, North Berwick, Dunbar, and Tranent, to bake bread and brew ale for the towns of Duns, Langtoun, and Eyemouth for furnesing of men of weir” who were building the fort.

In its day it Eyemouth fort held 500 French troops before being demolished again under the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559.

And those troops will make a brief return to Eyemouth this Saturday, June 21, (10am-4pm), in the shape of members of the Border Reivers Re-enactment Group who will set up camp outside the museum.

The re-enactment and the virtual reality tour of the fort has captured the imagination and local businesses such as General Mills, Ahlstrom and Berwickshire Housing Association have helped financially.

Friends of Eyemouth Fort have worked tirelessly to ensure the fort’s prominence in 16th century history is not forgotten and the site of the fort can be visited. That involves physical work - strimming the site two or three times a year - and they are keen to hear from anyone prepared to give up a little bit of time to help them.