St Andrews HCI Research Group


David Harris-Birtill, Uta Hinrichs, Aaron Quigley

Palimpsest: an Edinburgh Literary Cityscape aims at visualising a literary cityscape of a city, based on related literary texts. This project focuses on the city of Edinburgh but the plan is for the techniques, methods and tools to apply to other UNESCO World Cities of Literature or indeed any literary city. Palimpsest is available to an online community of remote visitors, those with an interest in the literature of Scotland and its constituent places who explore the city and its culture from a distance. Palimpsest arises out of the idea of creating an innovative way of engaging people with literature, and drawing on literature’s own dependence on, and engagement with, place and space. Exploration of the relation between urban places and literature first arose in sociology in the mid 19th century.
Along with colleagues in the Department of English & Scottish Literature and the School of Informatics in the University of Edinburgh Aaron Quigley and Uta Hinrichs were awarded a Digital Transformations in the Arts and Humanities project grant. Of the overall funding, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: “Getting quality data out of the hands of a few and into the public domain is an important goal for this Government. This funding will help to overcome the challenge of making vast amounts of rich data more accessible and easier to interpret by the public. These 21 projects promise to come up with innovative long-lasting solutions.”
The Palimpsest project resulted in Lit Long: Edinburgh which features a range of maps and accessible visualisations, which enable users to interact with Edinburgh’s literature in a variety of ways, exploring the spatial relations of the literary city at particular times in its history, in the works of particular authors, or across different eras, genres and writers. Lit Long: Edinburgh makes a major contribution to our knowledge of the Edinburgh literary cityscape, with potential to shape the experience and understanding of critics and editors, residents and visitors, readers and writers.

Give the web visualisation a try here.

SACHI’s Dr Uta Hinrichs created the web visualisation and Dr David Harris-Birtill created the mobile app. Professor Aaron Quigley was the University of St Andrews leader and co-investigator on the Palimpsest project.



Walter Scott about Morningside
LitLong Web Interface