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St Giles’ Cathedral

Situated in the heart of Edinburgh, St Giles’ Cathedral is both a working church and a 900-year-old heritage site. Pre-Covid, the cathedral welcomed over 1 million visitors a year, with 80% coming from outside of the UK. Considered the ‘Mother Church’ of World Presbyterianism, St Giles’ is a spiritual centre point for much of the Scottish diaspora and plays a pastoral role for many people with Scottish ancestors who are ‘coming home.

The Challenge

Given its long history and prominence, the team at St Giles’ receive a high volume of enquiries from individuals and families that are trying to find out more about the births, deaths and marriages of their ancestors.

St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

St Giles’ challenge is to develop an interactive, visually engaging, accessible interface that will allow physical and online visitors to explore Scotland’s past and their Scottish roots.

They hope to be able to provide a search engine based on data from the National Records of Scotland and/or academic databases, enabling visitors to search for their ancestors using a name, profession, or location.


They would like a Challenge Respondent to develop a solution that offers two-way interaction, providing visitors with the information they are looking for, while also collecting visitor data to develop an interactive visualisation that demonstrates the reach of Scotland’s people today. Visitors without Scottish heritage will also be encouraged to share information on their own location and ancestry to build a bigger picture of the cathedral’s international reach and appeal.

St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

A successful solution to this challenge will enable St Giles’ to provide an innovative and engaging experience that better meets the interests of many of their visitors.

For the Challenge Respondent, this is an opportunity to work with one of Scotland’s top tourist attractions on a unique project that has the potential for further applications in locations of historical significance across the country.


Applications for this Challenge Project are now closed. If you have any questions, please contact us at creativeinformatics@ed.ac.uk.


If you are interested in responding to this challenge please contact the Creative Informatics team.

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