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6 October 2015

Edinburgh Castle siege to be brought to life

Visitors to Edinburgh Castle will have the opportunity to step back more than 370 years in time, as one of its longest sieges is brought to life.

The gatehouse at Edinburgh Castle, seen from the Esplanade.

Visitors to Edinburgh Castle will have the opportunity to step back more than 370 years in time, as one of its longest sieges is brought to life as part of The Castle for the Covenant! event, this October.

Taking place over the course of a weekend, on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th October, historical costumed performers will take to the castle to mark the siege of 1640. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience what 17th century siege warfare might have been like as a Covenanting army attempt to capture the castle from the royalist garrison, loyal to King Charles l.

Based on accounts and information from the real 1640 siege, the event will depict the key moments and tactics used in the attempt to conquer the iconic stronghold. Charting the attack, visitors can learn more about the real problems that the King’s men faced during the battle, including the lack of fresh supplies and the outbreak of disease, which resulted in the surrender of the castle to the Covenanters.

Over the centuries around 23 different siege attempts were made on Edinburgh Castle – making it the most besieged place in Europe. The castle witnessed a number of efforts, including a siege which saw a group of men scale the castle rock and one that lasted only 30 minutes.

The Castle for the Covenant! will provide visitors with the opportunity to discover what the life of a soldier of the period might have been like for both the defenders and the attackers. Visitors will also be able to witness soldiers being put through their paces in drills from the era and experience an exciting display of cannon and musket firepower.

Lorna Ewan, Head of Visitor Experience, Content and Learning for Historic Environment Scotland, said: “Throughout its history, Edinburgh Castle has been under siege more than 20 times making it one of the most besieged defences in Europe. Now this weekend-long event will provide our visitors with a unique insight into this aspect of the castle’s story – one of the longest attacks the landmark endured.

“The Castle for the Covenant! will take visitors back to the 17th century as costumed characters chart the siege of 1640, re-telling some of the key moments that eventually saw the Covenanters capture the castle.”

This October also sees the official launch of Discover Edinburgh Castle, the first guidebook specially created for younger visitors. The new book complete with illustrations explores the castle’s long and colourful history, introducing children and young visitors to some of the famous historic characters and monarchs that have been associated with it throughout the centuries. Discover Edinburgh Castle is available to purchase at Edinburgh Castle and is priced at £4.99.

The Castle for the Covenant! event will take place on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th October from 12noon-4pm. This event is included within the price of admission to Edinburgh Castle.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • As of the 1st October 2015, Historic Scotland and RCAHMS came together to form a new lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. The new body Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
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Year of Food and Drink 2015

2015 is the Year of Food and Drink, a celebration of Scotland’s natural larder and the role that food and drink plays in shaping our economic success. Scotland generates over £2.5m per day through food and drink tourism. A series of themed months will create an appetite for key areas of Scotland’s food and drink industries – from seafood and whisky to berries and high-quality meat.

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For further information

Grant Thomson
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct Line: 0131 668 8074
Mobile: 07580 702 611