The Keepers Quest, Bryngarw Country Park
Taking visitor interpretation to a new level, the interactive project is not only unique to Bridgend County Borough, but to the whole of Wales
– Councillor Phil White, Bridgend County Borough Council
Bryngarw Country Park is a Grade II listed Historic Park and Garden. Alongside the Bryngarw Park Rangers and the Bridgend County Borough Council we have developed an exciting scheme called ‘The Keepers of Bryngarw’. This project (funded by the council’s ‘REACH’ Rural Development Programme) brings tales of the local countryside to life through the use of an exciting and wholly unique interactive audio experience.
The project uses art, sculpture, music, mythic storytelling and innovative technology in order to bring the story of the Park to life for visitors. Going beyond simply providing information the Keepers appeal directly to the imagination, creating a more engaging and meaningful visitor experience.
We wanted to create an experience for the visitor; one that they were fully engaged and invested in, creating a sense of magic, mystery and adventure as the Keepers are found and the Story of the Land is awoken. The Keepers are 7ft tall sculptures, carved from centuries old oak trees which once grew in the park. The fact that the ‘Ancient Keepers’ really have been in the park for centuries, hidden deep within the old oaks before being ‘awoken’ in sculpture, gives an added authenticity to the project.
Bringing the Keepers to life
The innovative technological component was deliberately developed so as to be ‘hands on’, immersive and interactive. In the planning phase we had explored the idea of using iPads and augmented reality to bring the Keepers to life. However, it was felt that having visitors staring into digital screens would distract & detract from the chief purpose of the project, i.e. to facilitate an experience and deeper appreciation of the natural landscape itself. The audio activated by the Star Talisman device was then developed as a far more tactile and involving means of ‘waking the story’.
Local Welsh Harpist Angharad Edwards was commissioned to compose a unique piece of music for each Keeper, as well as a ‘Beginning of Quest’ / ‘End of Quest theme. Each Keeper contains tales in both Welsh and English, whilst a Map and certificate were designed to help and reward visitors on their quest, again in both Welsh and English.
Some visitor comments on the experience:
“Brilliant walk – great ideas for the little ones. Good way of getting people to experience the ‘less seen’ areas of the park. Jacob’s (age 7) favourite was the Keeper of the Meadow which he found last. Thanks for a great adventure!” – Jan & Jacob Cooper
“Thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Our eldest daughter – nearly 8 – loved the search for all the Keepers. The meadow was a highlight where we sat and listened to the music twice! A lovely, different day out!” – Richard, Tonya, Alys and Mabli Jones
“A novel way to encourage exploration of the park” – E. Jones
“Me and my mum thoroughly enjoyed the experience. A clever way to get you to see Bryngarw. Such a lovely park to explore. Thank you!” – Keira and Colleen
“Great fun! Recommend to anyone old and young. Great fun for children to learn a bit about nature and ideas of things to do and look out for back at home. Thanks!” – Jane and Kevin, Bristol
“Lovely walk to find all the stories. It tied in great with our child’s homework of ‘Autumn’! Thank you.” – Bo, Alice and Blake (5)
“We had a great time finding the Keepers and hearing their tales. Highly recommended!” – Dylan, Imogen, Mum, Nanny and Grandad
“Loved doing this Talisman walk . . . My 4 boys Aaron, Samuel, Luke and Joshua had so much fun! Thank you.” – Gemma Belby
“We had a fab time. Kids loved it, will defo come back again. Thank you!” – Rhiannon Barry
“I loved the Keeper challenge. My favourite Keeper is the Keeper of the Woods. If I had the chance I would do it again.” – Jack
“Keepers quest has been a lot of fun. A lovely way to add to a nice winter walk with the dog. Thoroughly enjoyed.” – Nicci, Stuart, Gemma and Lady