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6 June 2023

Birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots to reopen to visitors

Doors re-open to Linlithgow Palace, the awe-inspiring palace of the Stewarts

Aerial view of Linlithgow Palace

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has announced that Linlithgow Palace will reopen on Saturday 10 June, with visitors once again being able to explore the site with over 2,000 years of history.

Initially a Roman settlement, there has been a royal residence where Linlithgow Palace now sits since the mid-1100s. The earliest residence was severely damaged by fire, and no visible features remain. After returning from captivity in England, James I began work on the new ‘pleasure palace’ to replace the previous residence. The palace was a welcome rest stop for royals between Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle and was frequently in use. The elegant ruins seen today are the results of James I and his heirs’ work.

Access restrictions were put in place in summer 2021 as a safety precaution while HES, who manages the site, carried out high level fabric inspections. As well as identifying needed repair work, these inspections are beginning to identify the factors which contribute to the condition of high level masonry at specific historic sites, including climate change, the construction techniques used, both when built and subsequent repairs and the geological vulnerability of specific stone type.

Whilst climate change is not an issue unique to Scotland, HES is believed to be amongst the first heritage managers to proactively face this new challenge, with the results already being shared with peer organisations.

At Linlithgow Palace, a number of areas have been the subject of conservation repair, however some minor access restrictions will remain in place while further work is ongoing.

While HES had initially planned to reopen the palace in May, the reopening was delayed due to a recent incident of heritage crime where walls, flagstones and the historic three-tiered courtyard fountain were defaced with graffiti. HES conservation teams have been working to address and mitigate the damage caused, including to the 16th century fountain.

There will be some access restrictions in place at the North Quarter including the King’s Bed Chamber and the Court Kitchen. All other areas will reopen, including the Great Hall, Chapel Royal, the King’s Hall, the Museum, the Kitchen, Queen Margaret’s Bower, and more.

Craig Mearns, Director for Operations at HES, said:

“We are very pleased to be able to re-open Linlithgow Palace to the public. Our teams have worked tirelessly not just to make it a safe and enjoyable place to visit, but also to address the damage that was done to the historic site this spring. That work is still on-going.

“We know that the local community and visitors alike have been eagerly awaiting the re-opening and, as a result of our planned and completed conservation work, expect that this amazing site can be enjoyed by everyone for many years to come.”

Also forthcoming will be a new audio guide for visitors, which - as well as featuring the royal history of the Palace - will also tell the lesser-known stories of the ordinary people who lived and worked there. This guide will be included in the ticket price.

Linlithgow Palace will be open from 9.30am to 5.30pm every day. Last admission is at 4.45pm. Visitors are encouraged to book before visiting.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES) 

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting, and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle, and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of HES.
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For further information, please contact:

Robin Kepple
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
07721 959 962