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31 March 2023

Some of Scotland’s most iconic historic sites ready to reopen their doors

Heritage attractions in Orkney, Dumfries and Galloway, Aberdeenshire and Perthshire, among others set to welcome visitors once more.

Distant view of Inchcolm Abbey across the sea

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has announced that over twenty sites across the country are set to reopen to visitors throughout April and May.

The attractions, which incorporate some of Scotland’s most iconic sites, will see much loved seasonal sites open their doors once more, with other year-round sites reopening to visitors following a prioritised programme of works in the face of accelerating climate change.

Whether it is a high-tech experience at Stanley Mills to explore the interactive stories of the Industrial Revolution, learning about Pictish history at the Meigle Sculptured Stone Museum, or following in Sir Walter Scott’s footsteps to visit Smailholm Tower, attractions for every age group will be available this summer.

From 1 April, visitors will be able to enjoy attractions like Inchcolm Abbey, which is home to well-preserved monastic buildings, Smailholm Tower, Stanley Mills, and the Meigle Museum. Also opening on this day are the prehistoric Cairnpapple Hill, Hermitage Castle, an eerie ruin central to historic power struggles, and Newark Castle, where visitors can explore 16th century interiors.

A general view of Cairnpapple Hill, a chambered cairn and henge monument in West Lothian.

Cairnpapple Hill was a significant site for ceremonies and burials for at least 4,000 years.

For those who want to experience 2,000 years of history in one location, guided tours will also be available at Kinneil House near Bo’ness. Due to popular demand, the tours will now be available every Saturday from 1 April until 30 September, excluding 3 June and 2 September.

These sites will soon be joined by St Vigeans Stones and Museum, which is opening on 3 April.

Later in April, visitors can enjoy Spynie Palace in Moray and Tolquhon Castle in Aberdeenshire, as well as the three historic sites in Orkney – Bishops and Earls’ Palaces, Broch of Gurness, and Hackness Mortello Tower and Battery.

In May, visitors can walk around the impressive remains of Balvenie Castle and visit the reconstructed barracks at Corgarff Castle.

Several sites will also re-open this spring following high-level masonry inspections. Access restrictions were put in place at several sites last year as a safety precaution while HES introduced new measures to manage the impact of climate change on its heritage assets. Whilst this is not an issue unique to Scotland, HES is one of the first to proactively tackle it. Some sites that will be welcoming visitors following their inspections include Glenluce Abbey, Dundrennan Abbey, MacLellan’s Castle, and Aberdour Castle.

Craig Mearns, Director of Operations at HES, said:

“We are thrilled to be able to welcome visitors to so many of our historic sites this season, with members of the public being able to explore much-loved heritage attractions across the country.

“We hope as many people as possible explore Scotland’s world-famous historic environment this spring.

"From castles, palaces and abbeys to museums, brochs and towers, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.”

Some partial restrictions may remain in place at some sites while the high-level masonry programme is ongoing. Booking in advance is recommended at all ticketed sites.

See all details, including opening dates and times.

Sites open 1 April

Sites open later in April

Sites open in May

All seasonal sites will close on 30 September unless otherwise specified.

Sites that are due to re-open this season after undergoing inspections and repairs where necessary with other sites set to be announced on a rolling basis:

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
Mobile: 07880 134 601