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31 October 2023

‘Cook Up the Castle!’ at MacLellan’s Castle

16th century dishes will be reconstructed for visitors to taste

A chef with chopped up ingredients looking out a window

An evening of video projections and gastronomic delights will be taking place at MacLellan’s Castle from 5pm to 8pm on Friday 3 November.

As part of the Cook Up the Castle!’ project, which has been commissioned by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) which also manages the castle, visitors will get the opportunity to explore what people across a variety of statuses would have eaten in the 16th and 17th centuries, along with where their provisions came from and how they cooked them.

Visitors to the event can enjoy marchpane biscuits, oatcakes and venison potage - three dishes that would have been eaten when the Castle was in use - reconstructed by chef and cookery instructor Nick Morris and served by costumed performers. A cookery skills demonstration will also take place in the Castle grounds, and recipe cards for all the dishes will be available for visitors to take away.

A series of interactive videos will also be projected onto the castle walls which have been created from open, drop-in filming sessions that took place in early October during Kirkcudbright’s popular Festival of Light, where passers-by of all ages were invited to get dressed up, grab foodie props and be photographed. The results have been blended with footage shot inside the Castle kitchen, at the Academy, and at the Cookery School.

The project has brought together a team of artists, John Wallace, Cate Ross, Elizabeth Stephenson and DJ McDowall, with community members in Kirkcudbright, Nick Morris of Station House Cooker School and S1 pupils of Kirkcudbright Academy.

Claire Whitbread, Exhibitions Manager at HES, says:

"The ‘Cook Up the Castle!’ event offers a fantastic opportunity to explore a key part of our intangible heritage, cooking and recipes. Projects like this offer visitors to our sites the chance to see our history brought to life in a unique way, and we look forward to welcoming them through the doors of MacLellan’s Castle to enjoy both a visual and literal feast!"

John Wallace, video artist, filmmaker and Lead Artist for the project, says:

“Food and costume are such great ways of helping people get in touch with the past.

“We hope everybody that took part in the filming will come along and bring a few friends and relatives. It’s going to be a wee bit of time travel, but one that’ll still see you home before bedtime with something to try out in your own kitchen the next day”.

Nick Morris, chef and cookery instructor, says:

“It’s been a huge amount of fun researching what and how people ate back then. It’s true there were more ingredients around than people might imagine, but much of what we take for granted today just wasn’t available to poorer people - if it was available at all.”

It’s lovely to be able to help keep the spirit of MacLellan’s Castle alive in the present day.

‘Cook Up the Castle!’ will take place on Friday 3 November at MacLellan’s Castle from 5pm to 8pm. The event is free to attend.

Find out more about MacLellan's Castle and how to get there 

Find out more about the ‘Cook Up the Castle’ exhibition

Notes to editors: 

  • Marchpane biscuits were sweet treats that would have been eaten by the likes of the Laird and his family
  • Oatcakes were a staple part of the Scots diet for many centuries
  • Venison Potage was a thick, slow-cooked stew with barley or oats, vegetables and meat or fish. It was eaten by the rich and poor in Scotland since at least the early 1400s.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES) 

  • We are the lead body for Scotland’s historic environment, a charity dedicated to the advancement of heritage, culture, education and environmental protection. It is at the forefront of researching and understanding the historic environment and addressing the impacts of climate change on its future, investigating and recording architectural and archaeological sites and landscapes across Scotland and caring for more than 300 properties of national importance. We are also the lead on delivering Scotland's strategy for the historic environment, Our Past, Our Future.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle, and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of HES.
  • View our press pack and keep up to date by registering to receive our media releases. Already registered? You can unsubscribe at any time by following the unsubscribe link, included in every email.

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For further information, please contact:

Laura Ely
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
07721 959 962