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6 February 2020

Edinburgh Castle launches new star-studded audio guide

A star-studded cast will take visitors to Edinburgh Castle on a journey through the castle’s history in a brand-new audio guide.

Edinburgh Castle viewed from Princes Street Gardens

A star-studded cast will take visitors to Edinburgh Castle on a journey through the castle’s history as Historic Environment Scotland (HES) launches a brand-new audio guide at the iconic fortress.

An array of notable names from the fields of film, television and entertainment have lent their voices to the new guide, including four-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan, celebrated TV and movie actor Bill Paterson and Outlander’s Andrew Gower.

There are also writers such as Inspector Rebus creator Ian Rankin, Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin and Scots Makar Jackie Kay; historians including Clare Jackson, Allan MacInnes and David Caldwell; Ian Hamilton, who took the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey in 1950; war correspondent Orla Guerin; comedian Susan Morrison and The Proclaimers.

The guide is narrated by broadcasters Sally Magnusson and Eddie Mair. Many of the cast read first-person accounts of important events and episodes from the castle’s rich history, bringing to life figures such as Bonnie Prince Charlie, Sir Walter Scott and Oliver Cromwell. Others are interviewed to shed light on particular stories and buildings and to explore its living legacy.

The celebrity cast is joined by a host of experts and specialists who work in the castle today, offering visitors an insight into the workings of the 21st century castle. They include the One o’Clock Gunner, the man who descended to the bottom of the Fore Well and the woman who conserves the armour.

Also included in the audio guide are readings of poetry, prose and biography, with some verses in Gaelic, medieval Scots and Old Welsh that go back 1,400 years into the castle’s past. Two pieces of music from the 13th and 18th centuries were recorded specially for the project.

The new audio guide, developed by HES and produced in collaboration with Antenna International, is believed to be the first of its kind to tell both historic and contemporary stories about a heritage site through such a wide range of different voices. It is available in 11 languages, with the translation offer increased to include Korean and Brazilian Portuguese.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES, said:

Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s top paid-for visitor attraction, and we are committed to investing in the site and finding new and inventive ways of engaging a wide range of people with its history.

“We’re delighted that a host of talented figures – including our own staff – have been involved in this project and contributed to the ongoing legacy of the castle in such a unique way.

“This new audio guide will allow visitors to connect more closely with the living history of the castle and gain new insights into the story of Scotland’s greatest fortress.”

Among those lending their voice to the new guide is Ian Rankin, best known as author of the Rebus series of detective novels.

Ian Rankin

Commenting on the launch, Ian said:

For many people around the globe, Edinburgh Castle IS Edinburgh. It is symbolic of the city’s staying power and majesty and remains a focus of local and national pride.

“I first visited as a child. Fifty years on, I still walk its slopes with a sense of awe. It is a privilege to play a small part in its modern-day story.”

The new audio guide is available now, priced £3.50 for an adult, £2.50 for concession and £1.50 for a child.

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About Year of Coasts and Waters 2020

The Year of Coasts and Waters (#YCW2020) led by VisitScotland, will be showcased throughout 2020 and celebrated with a programme of events. Activities and ideas will shine a spotlight on the impact our waters have had on Scotland, from the formation of beautiful natural features to the creation of our national drink - whisky.

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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:

Stacey Dent
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct line: 0131 668 8097
Mobile: 07557 489 322