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29 April 2021

Honours of Scotland back on public display as Edinburgh Castle gets ready to open its doors

Edinburgh Castle amongst Historic Environment Scotland sites across Scotland set to reopen as covid restrictions ease

Honours of Scotland on display in the crown room

The Honours of Scotland are set to go on public display again as Edinburgh Castle gets ready to open its doors to visitors once more.

The Honours, which includes the Crown and Sceptre of Scotland, were first used to crown Mary, Queen of Scots and were famously hidden after the Act of Union in 1707, until they were rediscovered many years later by the author Walter Scott.

The Honours will be able to be viewed socially distanced with a new queuing system implemented in Crown Square to manage access. This follows other innovations at the site, including the introduction of painted circles around the world famous one o’clock gun as well as the use of QR codes and new audio guides to continue to tell the story of one of Scotland’s most iconic sites.

The castle is one of over 20 ticketed sites Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is opening across Scotland tomorrow (Friday 30 April), after covid protection measures have been eased in mainland Scotland, with tickets going on sale on a pre-booked basis to the public earlier this month.

This includes some of Scotland’s most iconic heritage sites including Stirling Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Urquhart Castle, St Andrews Castle, Melrose Abbey, and Skara Brae * as 5,000 years of history opens up once more.

This will see 70% of Historic Environment Scotland’s sites, which operate under the Historic Scotland brand, open up to the public, including ticketed and over 200 free to access sites from tomorrow. Further ticketed sites are due to reopen on a rolling basis over the upcoming months.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES, visited Edinburgh Castle today (Thursday 29 April), for a preview ahead of the official reopening to the public. He said;

Our heritage sites are home to over 5,000 years of history and we can’t wait to welcome visitors back once more, so they can once again experience Scotland’s history.

“As before, there will be measures in place to facilitate social distancing, as well as new innovations to the visitor experience including new audio tours and digital content.

“We know how much people enjoy being able to access heritage sites, and we’ve worked hard to provide a mix of sites across the country, with over 70% of our sites opening up on the 30th and many others on a phased basis over the next few months.

“On the eve of what is a historic reopening, it’s been great to be at the castle to see all the hard work of the teams coming to fruition as we get ready to welcome visitors once more.”

As before, safety measures will be in place, with visitors wearing face coverings in indoor spaces and some enclosed spaces, where social distancing can’t be easily maintained, not accessible. There will also be an initial capacity management on numbers, one-way systems will be in place in some locations and visitors being asked to use contactless payment where possible.

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. To book tickets and for more information on further HES sites reopening visit: restarthistory.scot

The full list of the sites opening on 30th April are:

  • Aberdour Castle
  • Arbroath Abbey**
  • Blackness Castle
  • Caerlaverock Castle
  • Craigmillar Castle ***
  • Dirleton Castle
  • Doune Castle
  • Dryburgh Abbey
  • Dunblane Cathedral
  • Dundonald Castle
  • Dunfermline Abbey Nave
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Elgin Cathedral
  • Fort George
  • Glasgow Cathedral
  • Huntly Castle
  • Jedburgh Abbey
  • Linlithgow Palace
  • Melrose Abbey
  • St Andrews Castle
  • St Andrews Cathedral
  • Skara Brae*
  • Stirling Castle
  • Tantallon Castle
  • Urquhart Castle

*Skara Brae in Orkney has been kept open to local visitors only, whilst in level 3, whilst the rest of mainland Scotland has been closed for covid protection measures since 26 December.

**Arbroath Abbey’s grounds will be accessible for free ahead of the opening of a new visitor offer at the centre due to open in the summer.

***Free tickets will initially be available for the grounds of Craigmillar Castle only but need to be pre-booked online.

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.

Follow Historic Environment Scotland

Twitter: @HistEnvScot | @welovehistory

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For further information, please contact:

Iona Matheson
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Mobile: 07221 959 962