Letting people experience the past through a very modern medium is one of the most surprising innovations on Twitter over the last few years. The recent commemoration of the millennium of the Battle of Clontarf included ‘live tweeting' of the events by the main protagonists. 

One thousand years on from the bloody battle, 1014 Retold is re-telling it on Twitter, from a variety of perspectives, including Kings, Queens and Viking invaders. This may sound bizarre – Irish High King Brian Boru and his rival Viking King of Dublin Sitric giving literal blow by blow accounts of the battle – but it serves to bring the events to life for modern audiences in a very tangible way. Hearing a variety of different voices relate their experiences gives an extra depth to historical accounts, accounts that many younger people feel are quite dry and struggle to relate to. 

Image via entertainment.ie

A story told with the momentum of an episode of 'Game of Thrones’ on the other hand captivates them. Side characters an subplots shine through – among the most fascinating contributions to the 1014 Retold thread are from Gormlaith, wife of Boru and mother of Sitric, who is often accused of goading the men to battle. There is a unique depth of storytelling that live tweeting offers: as buzzfeed.com remarked, “The build up is tense, to say the very least… marriages forge and break alliances as family strife turns into war”. Enthralling stuff!


For established news organizations with extensive archives of photos and news pages, an anniversary is a good reason to give new life to original content. That’s what @Newsweek did when it live-tweeted the entire Kennedy presidency from his election to assassination.

Social media can bring a new level of experience in telling stories and let the audience get a more immersive experience of a notable event. Just because an event happened in the past doesn’t mean you can’t live-tweet it as if it was happening in the present. In the this momentous year of centenaries, we can expect a lot more history to be live-tweeted in real time. The Great War, the 1916 Easter Rising, The October revolution. Events that are all ripe for the live tweet treatment. Re-imagining the past for modern audiences.

(Images via entertainment.ie and atriptoireland.com)

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