THE former home of Scotland’s national bard is being brought to virtual life thanks to a team from Glasgow University.

Ellisland Farm in Dumfries and Galloway, where Robert Burns lived from 1788 to 1791, has been recreated in its 18th-century form on the video game Minecraft. Undergraduates and postgraduates from the university’s Minecraft Society worked alongside the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust to build the farm as Burns and his family knew it.

Minecraft players will have the opportunity to not only hear Burns’s poetry and songs while exploring the farm, but also interact in Scots with the poet and his wife, Jean Armour.

It is believed that this will be the first time Scots has been used in the game, which attracts nearly 140 million monthly active global users. The project is a partnership between Glasgow University, Robert Burns Ellisland Trust, which runs Ellisland Museum and Farm in Dumfries and Galloway, and the South of Scotland Destination Alliance.

Students who took part were recruited by Interface, which helps Scottish businesses grow by matching them to academic expertise. The project was funded through the Scottish Government’s Tourism Leadership and Recovery Fund, which supports businesses and community-led tourism enterprises as the sector recovers from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bailey Hodgson, president and co-founder of the Minecraft Society, said play testers reported to the team that

the game encouraged them to

want to visit Ellisland in real life.

Hodgson said: “We worked closely with Joan McAlpine at Ellisland, along with Dr Timothy Peacock and Dr Matthew Barr, to ensure we created an authentic experience that captures the farm as Burns would have known it, while also having educational elements.

“Everybody who worked on the game is delighted with what we have created. We hope everyone who gets to experience it has an enjoyable time while also learning about Burns and his work.”

McAlpine, the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust’s business development manager, added: “Heritage attractions are always striving to attract diverse new audiences and this Minecraft game opens Ellisland to potentially large numbers of children and young people

all round the world.

“They will know Auld Lang Syne, but may not have known where it was written or by whom. The game includes a brand-new version of the song by our trustee, the singer Emily Smith, and original audio of Tam O’Shanter.

“We are so excited about it and loved working with Bailey and the Glasgow University team.”