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18 May 2021

Further reopening dates announced for historic sites across the country

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has announced reopening dates for further sites throughout the country after more than 70% of its ticketed and free to access attractions opened again last month, including Edinburgh Castle and Fort George.

A historic stone broch surrounded by grass

The latest roll-out of the phased reopening of sites will see Broch of Gurness on Orkney and Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace in Argyll reopen on Monday 24 May, followed by Spynie Place in Moray on Sunday 30 May.

As Moray and now Glasgow currently remain in Level 3 COVID restrictions, we are, in line with SG guidance, advising visitors against travelling to or from these areas until the situation is again reviewed.

This follows Iona Abbey which reopened to the public earlier this month. Dundrennan Abbey in Dumfries and Galloway and Edzell Castle in Angus will then open their doors again to visitors on Friday 4 June.

Further sites, including Bothwell Castle in South Lanarkshire, Elcho Castle and Huntingtower Castle in Perth, Kildrummy Castle in Aberdeenshire and Maeshowe visitor centre on Orkney, will then reopen on Monday 21 June.

The Maeshowe Chambered Cairn itself will remain closed due to space restrictions required under current COVID guidelines. Visitors, however, will be able to enjoy an introductory talk highlighting Orkney’s heritage, interpretation of the cairn and its world heritage Ranger base as well as the on-site facilities and shop. Tickets for the visitor experience should be booked in advance (tickets available soon). 

These sites will then be followed on Wednesday 30 June with the addition of Dumbarton Castle and Rothesay Castle, with more ticketed sites set to reopen across the remainder of the summer.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES said:

We are pleased to announce even more of our sites reopening up and down the country, providing visitors with the opportunity to enjoy much loved heritage attractions once again."

“We are opening a further 13 of our ticketed sites to visitors over May and June, including a number of seasonal sites, joining over 70% of our attractions which opened at the end of April with additional sites to follow."

“With over 5,000 years of history in our care, we’ve adopted a phased approach to reopening, providing as diverse a mix of attractions as possible, as well as reviewing and implementing the individual reopening requirements of each site, in line with Scottish Government guidance. We are now looking forward to welcoming visitors back to even more sites, providing further opportunity to enjoy Scotland’s diverse and globally renowned historic environment.”

As before, safety measures will be in place at all sites, with visitors wearing face coverings in indoor locations and in some enclosed spaces where social distancing can’t be easily maintained. There will also be an initial capacity management on numbers and one-way systems will be in place in some locations.

For the parts of several sites where access is currently restricted, a programme of agile interpretation has been developed which can be accessed via QR codes and includes digital film or audio to further enhance the visitor experience.

All sites will follow the HES minimum operating standards, which were developed to set a benchmark for the safe reopening of historic sites and resumption of operational activities.

Tickets should be booked online in advance from the HES website and are now on sale for the sites opening in May, and tickets for sites opening in June available soon.

The full list of the sites opening across May and June includes:

Monday 10 May:

  • Iona Abbey

Monday 24 May:

  • Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace
  • Broch of Gurness

Sunday 30 May: 

  • Spynie Palace 

Friday 4 June:

  • Dundrennan Abbey
  • Edzell Castle

Monday 21 June:

  • Bothwell Castle
  • Elcho Castle (Grounds initially with no charge)
  • Kildrummy Castle
  • Maeshowe Visitor Centre, Stenness. Please note, the monument will remain closed given the small internal space

Tuesday 22 June:

  • Huntingtower Castle

Wednesday 30 June:

  • Dumbarton Castle
  • Rothesay Castle

About Year of Coasts and Waters 2021

The Year of Coasts and Waters (#YCW2021), led by VisitScotland, will be showcased throughout 2021. 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.

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.
  • View our press pack and keep up to date by registering for media release email alerts. If you wish to unsubscribe, please contact us.

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For further information, please contact:

Barry McPherson 
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Mobile: 07221 959 962