Glastonbury Stories

A Playable Place

Glastonbury Abbey attracts over 100,000 visitors each year and is famous for its stories spanning millennia, including Joseph of Arimathea and the legends of King Arthur, including Arthur's possible burial site within the ruined abbey. Visitors have always been free to explore the abbey grounds and surround themselves with the lingering echoes of its rich history. This tranquil, spiritual space is exactly what many of its visitors are seeking, but the abbey team were also aware that many, especially families, wanted to experience the abbey and its stories in a more dynamic, playful way.

ARCADE were invited to develop a new form of visitor experience that would shift the abbey from visitor attraction to 'Playable Place'.

Connect to the Past

Our adventure casts players in the role of a visiting pilgrim, following in the footsteps of so many before them. But their task is about more than making the pilgrimage. Glastonbury Abbey is a special place, a thin place, where time does not work in the same way as elsewhere.

You can reach back, and history can reach forwards. Medieval artefacts, voices of the past and even long-lost buildings may slip through portals in time and appear in the present day. It's up to you, if you accept your duty, the help keep Glastonbury Abbey and its stories safe by closing these rifts in time.

Those who take up this quest will overhear conversations from long ago and help return lost artefacts to their proper place in history. Some many even get a precious glimpse back through time to ghostly echoes of the buildings that once so proudly stood on the site.

Interactions within the experience are triggered by a series of physical markers positioned at many of the site's most important locations, from Arthur's (possible) tomb to ancient halls, even to medieval latrines! In addition to offering a new way to immerse into the abbey's stories, this also creates a new motivation to explore the wider 36 acre site, often neglected in favour of the more obvious ruins of the abbey itself. It was launched as an app for iOS and Android, and has invited thousands of abbey visitors on a pilgrimage through time.

Glastonbury Stories was co-created with the brilliant Glastonbury Abbey team, including the Living History guides who know the site and its visitors better than anyone. It launched as an app for iOS and Android, and is available for visitors to download now.

Glastonbury Abbey
Glastonbury, UK
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The AR app is an exciting way for families to explore the extensive grounds and archaeology of Glastonbury Abbey, experiencing the diverse voices and lifestyles of its medieval past.
Professor Roberta Gilchrist, Professor in Archaeology, University of Reading
We are aiming to provide a variety of ways through which our visitors can explore the site and its intriguing past…we hope this app and the trail that has been developed to go alongside it will be particularly engaging for families and younger people
Janet Bell, Director, Glastonbury Abbey