With geocaching (GPS-facilitated treasure hunts) making national news today after a cache caused a bomb scare in West Yorkshire, English Heritage is using an unusual technique to make sure its geocache trail, running this Saturday (9 July, from 11am-4pm) around Birmingham city centre, does not fall into the same trap!
Usually geocachers hunt for small plastic boxes, often containing an item to swap, or just a notebook where they note their name, the time and date, but English Heritage has got far greater plans, drafting in historical re-enactors from its forthcoming Festival of History (www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/foh-2011) to act as the ‘caches’!
“The idea of having people use their GPS devices to hunt for historic re-enactors was always part of our plan, but in light of the bomb scare in Wetherby this week, we’re bringing in extra marshals to cover our re-enactors for comfort breaks, rather than following our original plan of leaving a clearly marked box as a temporary cache,” explains Tamsin Burwell of English Heritage, who has co-ordinated the trail. “Unlike many geocache trails, we’re also offering treasure at the end of the trail – chocolate treats for the first 50 children to complete the trail, and family tickets to the Festival of history, each worth £52, for families drawn at random for those successfully completing the trail!”
“Although this trial is aimed at the whole family, we are expecting many dads and children to take advantage of it as a way of escaping Saturday clothes shopping – and many mums to encourage it as it will give them an hour’s uninterrupted shopping bliss!”
Similarly, rather than leaving a keepsake for the next person to find the ‘cache’, participants are being invited to upload their pictures to Twitter (hashtag #foh2011) Facebook and Flickr (with photos tagged as ‘Festival of History’)to create a virtual cache accessible to all.
The Birmingham City Centre treasure trail will be good practice for anyone attending the Festival of History, which takes place at Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire the following weekend, as the English Heritage education team will be setting challenges to visitors to follow the co-ordinates to different displays around the many acres of historical activities at Kelmarsh Hall.
The treasure hunt is open to anyone, young or old, who is happy to walk around Birmingham to find the clues. In total, the trail takes around an hour to complete on foot.
The starting co-ordinates for the trail are: 52.479433, -1.906933
For instructions on how to use smart phones or GPS devices to participate in the trail, please visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about/news/techno-treasur… where you can also find clues to the re-enactors’ locations. Clues will also be released on Facebook at www.facebook.com/festivalofhistory and Twitter @FestivalHistory, and participants will be encouraged to upload photographs featuring their experiences with the historical characters.
English Heritage’s Festival of History returns to Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire on Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 July for Europe’s biggest live action historical extravaganza. A blockbuster weekend of clashing swords, thundering hooves, epic battles, aerial displays by World War II Spitfires and have-a-go fun for all the family. Gates open 9.30 am - 6pm. For more details, including ticket prices, a full programme and directions, please visit www.festivalofhistory.org.uk or to pre-book tickets call 0870 333 1183.