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17 May 2023

Lochleven Castle reopens to visitors

Visitors can explore the island stronghold that once imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots

Aerial view of Lochleven Castle

Lochleven Castle will reopen for the season today (Wednesday 17 May), with visitors once again being able to take a boat to the scenic island and learn about its one-of-a-kind role in Scottish history.

Lochleven Castle sits in peaceful isolation on an island in Loch Leven. It was built in the 1300s and has been visited by Scottish royalty, most notably Robert the Bruce in 1313 and 1323, and Mary Queen of Scots in 1562 and 1565.

In 1567, Mary returned to Lochleven for the third time, this time as a prisoner. She was kept in the castle for almost a year and was there compelled to abdicate her throne. Today, Lochleven offers fascinating insight into this sliver of Scottish history, as well as intriguing tales from both before and after Mary’s forced stay.

Access restrictions were put in place at the start of last year, as a safety precaution while HES, who manages the site, introduced new measures to manage the impact of climate change on its heritage assets, an issue which is affecting heritage owners globally. Lochleven is the latest of a series of sites to reopen following inspections and necessary repairs.

The High-Level Masonry Programme, which is the result of ongoing risk assessment and sample surveys, assesses the impact of climate change on sites as well as the scale of deterioration caused by a number of other factors, including the materials used in the building’s construction, its age and physical location. Whilst this is not an issue unique to Scotland, HES is believed to be amongst the first heritage managers to approach it in this way, with the results shared with peer organisations.

Craig Mearns, Director of Operations at HES, said:

We are thrilled to once again be able to offer visitors the unique experience of exploring Lochleven Castle. It is a shining gem in the crown of Scottish heritage, with its own exceptional stories to tell.

“It has served as a prison of royals twice – the then-future Robert II in 1369, two years before his coronation, and Mary Queen of Scots in 1567-8 – and has played a central role in Scotland throughout history. Climate change is a new chapter of its story, and thanks to our teams who have worked hard to safely reopen Lochleven, visitors can once again enjoy the historic island stronghold.”

Lochleven Castle will be open from Wednesday 17 May until 31 October 2023. The site will be open daily from May to September, 10am to 5.30pm, with last outward sailing at 4.15pm, and in October from 10am to 4.30pm, with last outward sailing at 3.30pm). Given boat transport is required to get to the castle, visitors are encouraged to book tickets in advance and you can also check for any unexpected closures on the day.

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:

Robin Kepple
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
07721 959 962