Department of Classics and Archaeology

Virtual Venta

About Virtual Venta

Virtual Venta has been developed by the University of Nottingham, Jam Creative Studios , and the Norfolk Archaeological Trust as a pilot project for the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Next Generation of Immersive Experiences scheme.

The app uses data from the University of Nottingham’s research project at Venta Icenorum (Caistor Roman town) to create a visitor experience that draws directly on archaeological evidence for the buildings and people of Roman Venta. Although reconstructions always involve use of the imagination, every aspect of the reconstruction and characters is based on material found at the town itself or at similar sites.

Virtual Venta was designed to investigate some of the technical challenges of delivering an immersive Virtual Reality experience via mobile devices and to evaluate audience responses to this approach to presenting the site. This will inform future attempts to develop larger scale VR interpretations of the town for on- and off-site use.






 Creating Virtual Venta

The app depicts the forum in around 300 CE. Like many fora in this period it was becoming increasingly decrepit. From excavated evidence, the forum at Venta was in an interim state, between two phases of building and possibly standing in ruins, although much human activity has been recorded in the insula during this period.

The project aims to test people’s expectations and perceptions of what reconstructions of archaeological remains should be like; should they be pristine and complete or partial and lived in? How did that impact on the visitors’ experience and understanding of the site.

The reconstruction presents activities that we know took place at Venta, although not necessarily in the forum. We have also populated it with characters, some of which are based directly on the skeletal evidence from the site. We know that some of the people were not born locally and in common with many towns in Roman Britain, some of Venta’s inhabitants came from across the Roman Empire. The language spoken by the characters draws on the work of Alex Mullen’s Latin Now project, which charts the spread of Latin across the Roman Empire, and is an attempt to recreate some of the different forms of Latin that might have been spoken in Roman Britain at this time. 

All the key artefacts used by the characters have been found in excavations at Venta. The app allows the user to “collect” the artefacts in the course of following a story that allows them to meet and interact with the inhabitants of the Roman town.


Department of Classics and Archaeology

University of Nottingham
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Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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