PRESERVING our history is important in a city like York - but making it engaging for new generations is vital too. So take a bow Bethany Watrous and her brother Brant who are breaking new ground in how we bring history to life in the digital age.

The siblings have launched a business, Experience Heritage, which reveals our past through digital interactive media such as mobile apps and virtual reality. Recent work includes a downloadable heritage and nature walking trail through Tang Hall.

And with Bethany based in York and Brant in the US it is a truly international business - based, rather aptly, in one of York's finest historic buildings, Guildhall.

York Press: The Discover Tang Hall heritage trail app The Discover Tang Hall heritage trail app

So congratulations on being our traders of the week.

Each week we are shining the spotlight on the independent businesses that really make York special.

If you would like to nominate a York trader - or perhaps you run a local business and want to tell us what makes you special - you can tell us more via this online form:

Here's more about Bethany and Brant's story:

How long has the business been going?

Experience Heritage is in its third year of business. Founder Bethany Watrous started the company as she was completing her Master's in Buildings Archaeology from the University of York. During this study, she realised there was a gap in the market for digital media companies who understand the specific needs and goals of the heritage sector.

What does it sell?

Experience Heritage brings history to life through digital interactive media. Using 3D models, mobile applications, augmented and virtual reality, and historical research, we help our clients tell immersive stories of the past.

Tell us about some local work

The latest project was for Parlormade Scone House where the team created a photogrammetry model of the interior and exterior. It was created by taking hundreds of pictures by drone and by hand and then using specialised software to lace those pictures together into a 3D model. They also added informational points around the model so people can learn more about this historical building on the Shambles.

They have also worked with the Tang Hall History Group, Tang Hall Big Local and St Nicks Centre for Nature and Green Living to develop an app called Discover Tang Hall. It's a heritage and nature walking trail app that helps people learn more about the people, places and green spaces of the Tang Hall area through text, image and audio content. It can be found on Google Play store or the Apple app store.

York Press: Bethany at workBethany at work

Why is this business special?

Creating digital solutions for visualising and communicating heritage, Experience Heritage’s mission is to help preserve cultural heritage around the UK and the world by helping heritage organisations create engagement and accessibility to heritage sites. With authentic digital storytelling, our work helps clients ensure crucial funding for conservation, staffing and upkeep.

There are few digital studios who specialise and have backgrounds in heritage. This dual specialisation in digital media and archaeological research means that we speak our clients' language, transforming historical research into immersive and interactive content to engage audiences of all ages, and creating heritage engagement solutions suitable for delicate historic environments.

How has it adapted during the Covid-19 crisis?

The main adaptation we've undertaken is a heavier focus on certain products we provide. The impact of Covid on our clients meant a shift in their solutions for delivering heritage to their audiences. Museums and heritage sites were searching for solutions to continue to engage audiences while in-person interaction wasn't always possible. This meant an increased interest in solutions such as 3D model online artefact exhibits and heritage trail mobile applications.

Won any awards?

Experience Heritage was recently named on the Digital Enterprise Top 100 Index. We were also nominated for the Federation of Small Businesses Sole Trader of the Year Award 2022, The Hustle Awards Most Innovative Tech category 2021 and was a national finalist in the Santander University Emerging Entrepreneurs competition in 2020.

Be our next trader of the week

Tell us your story more via this online form: