Interpretation doesn't just have to be about producing a leaflet or a panel. There are other creative ways that you might consider using to help visitors engage with and think about your site. Innovative approaches have been adopted elsewhere, and the following is just a small selection of the kinds of interpretation people have done to spread interest and engagement in their particular projects.
They say a picture paints a thousand words and these murals in Prestongrange speak volumes about life in the past in this coastal town.
Prose, poetry and performance each lead the visitor to engage imaginatively with a site. In Dumfries and Galloway they held a writing workshop to explore a deserted settlement as part of Doors Open Day, a national initiative to explore Scotland's built heritage.
Everyone loves a good story, and there are opportunities to get involved in national events to get your tales heard, or why not have a local ceilidh?
On a guided walk you can show visitors around your site, pointing out interesting features and relating the lives of the people who lived there. Programmes of guided walks to archaeological sites are popular, and many districts have walking festivals which you could take part in.
This guide is a great resource for anyone planning their own guided walk.
The widespread use of mp3 audio players such as iPods and free downloadable sound editing software have made it possible to create your own audio tour for visitors to download from the web. These 'podcasts' allow visitors to see the site at their own pace while listening to audio commentary just like at the top visitor attractions!
Google Earth is a free computer programme that shows a detailed 3D model of the Earth. You can zoom in on part of the globe to see satellite and aerial photographs and click on highlighted areas to see photographs and find out more information about a place. Google are encouraging non-profit and public benefit groups to use Google Earth to show the work they are doing, the causes they are helping, the challenges they face and the change they are helping to enable - all in the visual context of the environment in which these stories take place. You might consider plotting your site or sites onto the map of Scotland. By downloading your files, anyone, anywhere can fly in Google Earth from where they live to where you do your work. This virtual visit to the projects and people you support gets users engaged and passionate about what you're doing and builds support for your cause.
Google Sketchup is a free programme for designing and creating virtual 3D models. Reconstructions of farms and townships could be made and these models shown on Google Earth, putting your reconstructed building in its geographical context.
This approach has been taken by Islay High School who SRP have worked with.
Present your findings as a comic
This innovative approach has been adopted in the US, and is a fun and easily accessible way of introducing your findings to a younger audience particularly.
Engaging in contemporary issues
Cultural heritage interpretation does not have to deal with safe or easy topics, and it can affect community relations in the present day as well as relating to visitors the life and times of people in the past. As an example here is an article about how the interpretation of an abandoned settlement in Alabama USA affected change in community relations in the present.
A reconstructed shieling at Loch Lomond has been used as the basis of an outreach project with refugees, sharing skills and experiences about rural life abroad, and in the past in Scotland. http://www.ben-network.org.uk/