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31 March 2022

Historic sites across Scotland open their doors to visitors once more

April marks the start of Historic Environment Scotland's reopening of a number of seasonal sites.

exterior view of a small tower house across a marsh

A 4000-year-old cairn, the Tower which inspired Sir Walter Scott and the former workplace of Scottish engineer James Watt, are among the historic sites that will be reopening across Scotland for the Spring and Summer.

More historic sites across Scotland are opening their doors to visitors once again, with neolithic ceremonial site Cairnpapple Hill, and Kinneil House, the place where James Watt developed his first engine, among the attractions that are reopening.

The first week of April marks the start of Historic Environment Scotland (HES)’s reopening of a number of seasonal sites across the estate, including some sites that have remained closed throughout the Covid pandemic. HES will reopen Smailholm Tower, the isolated tower house which inspired Sir Walter Scott, and prehistoric Cairnpapple Hill on the 1 April.

A general view of Spynie Palace.

For 500 years, Spynie Palace was the seat of the bishops of Moray.

This will be closely followed by the reopening of Spynie Palace and Kildrummy Castle on 3 April, Hackness Martello Tower and Battery in Orkney on 4 April and Corgarff Castle on 6 April.

Visitors will also be able to explore additional sites across Dumfries & Galloway and Inverclyde, with New Abbey Corn Mill reopening on 19 April and Newark Castle reopening in time for Easter on the 15 April.

A general view of Hermitage Castle.

Hermitage Castle has inspired local legends but its history of torture, treason and romantic trysts is more than colourful enough.

Later in the month, further sites will open their doors to the public. Torphichen Preceptory in West Lothian is scheduled to reopen on the 19 April. Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement in Shetland will reopen on the 21 April. Kinneil House is due to reopen on 24 April, followed by Hermitage Castle on 25 April.

The organisation reopened over 70% of its estate last year, however, some of the sites had remained closed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Reopening these sites means that visitors will once again be able to take a peek behind their doors.

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at HES said:

We are very pleased to be able to welcome visitors to more of our sites up and down the country, providing the public with fresh opportunities to explore a variety of much-loved heritage attractions and enjoy Scotland’s renowned historic environment this Spring.

“We’ve looked at providing as diverse a range of attractions as possible and hope visitors enjoy the opportunity to experience these sites once more.”

Tickets are now live for a number of sites and for more information, including opening times and details of further reopening of seasonal sites.

Explore the sites and plan a visit

For ticketed sites booking in advance is recommended to guarantee entry and visitors are asked to please review and adhere to Scottish Government guidance on visiting attractions including the wearing of masks in enclosed spaces unless exempt.

This news item was update on 12 April to amend the reopening dates for Hermitage Castle and New Abbey Corn Mill.

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:

Zoë Carpenter 
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Mobile: 07221 959 962