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Cawdor Castle: How ATS used the power of audio to re-create his Lordship’s Tour

Specialist content production firm ATS has drawn upon highly personal notes left by Cawdor Castle’s former owner to deliver a unique audio guide for visitors

While in residence at his family’s castle, the late Lord Cawdor left behind a written guide to the castle, which has been used as the main interpretive device for visitors for several years.

ATS was commissioned to help turn these notes, for which they and visitors have a great deal of affection, into an audio guide for visitors during the summer months. Although highly personal, and often rather witty, it wouldn’t have been suitable for an actor to simply record them verbatim. The notes are a personal reflection and do not necessarily provide the visitor with the historical context of the site that they could do with knowing before they start their visit.

The company hoped to move away from an informative, yet rather didactic, tone of voice, to create a guide that is engaging and relevant to visitors and their prior knowledge and expectations. Part of the challenge was to maintain some of Lord Cawdor’s personality and sense of humour in the script, without having him able to record it.

The resulting guide is a balance between the two – a neutral narrator voice who can provide context and directions and a voice quoting directly from Lord Cawdor, allowing a sense of his warmth and personality to continue to welcome visitors.

Graham Griffith, general manager at Cawdor Castle, said, “For over 40 years Cawdor Castle has welcomed members of the public to explore the Castle and Grounds. Although we have extremely knowledgeable English-speaking guides situated throughout the Castle, a large percentage of our visitors come from overseas, we felt it was necessary to enhance their experience by providing information in additional languages.

“Although limited Room notes are available in each room presented in A4 size. Now our visitors experience begins from the moment they enter the grounds and the Late Lord Cawdor’s incredibly informative and witty room notes have been conveyed faultlessly from paper to audio.”