Learn, create and play

Enjoy activities inspired by Scotland’s heritage! #LearningWithHES

Image of a man and children doing various learning activities along with a person dressed as a knight

1 Welcome

We’ve brought together some of our favourite resources to share with you online. 

Across our learn, create and play pages you’ll find games to play, colouring sheets to doodle on, crafts to make, recipes to try, and videos to watch. You can also choose to dive into our ‘Investigate’ section to explore historic sites and topics in more depth.

Don’t forget to check out our medieval fun for families: train as a stonemason, kit yourself out as a jousting knight, party like a king or queen of the past, prepare for a medieval battle, create some royal works of art, and immerse yourself in medieval abbey life.

Educators can access information to support their planning in our educators area.

We hope you have fun playing, creating, exploring and investigating and that these resources will inspire you to visit some of our historic places in the future.

2 Gaelic

Halò agus Fàilte!

An seo gheibhear blas an asgaidh air cuid de na geamaichean is goireasan as fheàrr leinn, air an toirt seachad le, agus airson, beagan spòrs.

Hello and welcome!

Here you’ll find a taste of the games, creative activities and resources we have to offer.

Cluich / Play

Thoir a-mach na peansailean airson dath a chuir air uilebheistean! An seo gheibhear blas air cuid de na geamaichean againn.

Get your pencils at the ready to colour in a monster! Here you’ll find a taste of the games we have to offer.

An taigh-dubh Àrnol / The Arnol Blackhouse

Caisteal Shruighlea / Stirling Castle

Muillean Stanley / Stanley Mills

Cuir dath air eachdraidh / Colouring in history

Each Uisge / Water-Horse

Cruthaich / Create

Thoir a-mach na siosaran agus cruthaich an sgiath agad fhèin! An seo gheibhear cuid de na goireasan cruthachail againn.

Get the scissors out and create your own shield! Here you’ll find some of the creative resources we have to offer.

Cruthaich an sgiath agad fhèin / Make your own shield 

Cruthaich na pupaidean agaibh fhèin / Make your own puppets

Cuir ri chèile taigh-dubh / Build our own Blackhouse

Rannsaich / Investigate

Rannsaich is faigh barrachd a-mach mu dheidhinn cuspairean is topaigean co-cheangailte ri dualchas agus eachdraidh na h-Alba an seo.

Research and dive into some topical resources connected with Scotland’s amazing history and heritage.

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An Tac an Teine film 

Gaelic for Outlanders 

Antonine Wall information in Gaelic

Gairm Obar Bhrothaig - leabhran obrach / Declaration of Arbroath - Activity Book

Rùrachadh / Explore

Tha stòras prìseil againn ann an Alba de chultar, dualchas agus eachdraidh. Cleachd na goireasan an seo airson leum a-steach air.

We have a precious resource of culture, heritage and history in Scotland. Why not use these resources to explore them?

Tobar an Dualchais

Gaelic thesaurus

Goireasan airson luchd-teagasg / Resources for Educators

Seo goireasan topaigeach airson taic a thoirt do luchd-teagasg leis na leasanan aca.

Here are some resources for education professionals to help them deliver the best sessions.

Early Carved Stones

Heritage on your Doorstep

The Jacobite Risings

Mary Queen of Scots

Medieval Castle Life Handling Box

Tha sinn an dòchas gum bi deagh spòrs agaibh leis na goireasan seo.
Ma bhios ceistean, no molaidhean idir agaibh an cuir sibh brath thugainn aig gaidhlig@hes.scot

We hope that you have fun with these resources. If you have any questions or thoughts, please contact us at gaidhlig@hes.scot

3 Play

Play your way through Scotland’s history with games inspired by the past.

Role play activities


Word searches & code breaking

We’d love to hear about your learn at home activities – do share your #LearningWithHES online!

If you’d like to give us feedback on these resources please get in touch by emailing learning@hes.scot.

4 Make and create

Whether it’s planning for a medieval feast or designing your own shield, here’s where to get creative!

Inspired by castles

View our Craft Knight Playlist on Youtube

Inspired by knights

Inspired by medieval times

Inspired by traditional building materials

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Inspired by UNESCO World Heritage sites

Inspired by Scottish Buildings

Inspired to make your own Scottish town or city? Download our papercraft templates for Scottish buildings from tower blocks to tenements.

We’d love to hear about your learn at home activities – do share your #LearningWithHES online!

If you’d like to give us feedback on these resources please get in touch by emailing learning@hes.scot.

5 Draw and colour

Do you like to doodle and dream – or focus and shade? Get those pens and pencils ready!

Inspired by unicorns!

Coloured-in drawing of unicorn

Inspired by medieval times

Inspired by Scottish historic sites

Get creative with the kids or bring some mindfulness to your day as you colour in some of your favourite Historic Environment Scotland sites like Stirling Castle, Melrose Abbey, or the Blackhouse in Arnol. Learn about the materials these places were built with, and the people who made them.

Download the colouring sheets now

Inspired by UNESCO World Heritage sites 

We’d love to hear about your learn at home activities – do share your #LearningWithHES online!

If you’d like to give us feedback on these resources please get in touch by emailing learning@hes.scot.

6 Explore

Explore Craigmillar Castle with our Junior Tour Guides

Explore the life of Mary Queen of Scots.

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Find out more about the historic objects that were used during the castle's daily life, as well as the items that helped defend it!

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What would daily life at Craigmillar Castle have been like? Hear from the influential Preston family, servants and guards.

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Learn more about the objects Mary Queen of Scots may have used during her time at Craigmillar Castle.

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Take a closer look at Edinburgh Castle with our new ThingLink

Click on the buttons of this new interactive map to find out more about life at Edinburgh Castle. 

Discover our historic sites through films made by schools

Find out about some of Scotland's most exciting historic places with help from a series of videos made by learners, for learners. The films were made in partnership with the BBC L.A.B and primary and secondary school pupils across Scotland and explore:

Explore Linlithgow Palace with the Junior Tour Guides

Watch our new film to find out about the Stewart Kings and Queens, understand coded messages, learn palace etiquette, discover the food eaten at royal feasts, and practise a court dance.

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If you're an educator, you might also want to look at our suggestions of learning resources linked to the film, a range of drama and dance activities, and script ideas for an assembly-style presentation (along with some images for presentations).

View films about the Children of Edinburgh Castle

These short films (under 1 minute) have been scripted and performed by young people. 

These historic fictions give us glimpses into the stories of children living in and around Edinburgh Castle in very different times and in very different circumstances - some that historical records can tell us about, and others that we have had to imagine.

View augmented reality (AR) models:

Watch our video guides and bring some of our remarkable historic places and their stories into your home.

Visit Doune Castle and Orkney with the Junior Tour Guides

Explore historic sites through our apps:

  • Maeshowe: download for iOS or Android and virtually explore the chambered tomb in the heart of Neolithic Orkney. Give our Maeshowe Challenge [PDF, 220KB] a go too
  • Antonine Wall: download from Apple Store and Google Play to explore and learn about the Antonine Wall
  • Digital Documentation Companion: download for iOS and Android to explore 3D models of sites and objects through Augmented Reality (AR)

Research different parts of Scotland’s heritage:

We’d love to hear about your learn at home activities – do share your #LearningWithHES online!

If you’d like to give us feedback on these resources please get in touch by emailing learning@hes.scot.

7 Investigate

Looking for information about Scotland’s past and ideas for investigating people, events and places? Start your investigations here!

Learn more about Historic Scotland sites

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Delve into Scotland's historic environment

Visit partner websites to explore castle life

Take a look at our information sheets

Guiding you through food, work and play in medieval Scotland:

We’d love to hear about your learning activities – do share your #LearningWithHES online!

If you’d like to give us feedback on these resources please get in touch by emailing learning@hes.scot.

8 Resources for educators

These resources are designed to support learning practitioners explore topics with their learners. We’ve also included links to some of the excellent materials developed by other heritage organisations.

Explore Linlithgow Palace with the Junior Tour Guides

Your learners can get a fantastic introduction to life at Linlithgow Palace in a brand new 25 minute film created by the Linlithgow Palace Junior Tour Guides.

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Find out about the Stewart Kings and Queens, understand coded messages, learn palace etiquette, discover the food eaten at royal feasts, and practise a court dance.

We have a selection of accompanying teaching resources to extend learning about the Palace, which hosted Scottish royalty for over 600 years. 

For educators:

  1. A resource overview and some activity suggestions linked to the film [PDF, 262KB]
  2. Drama and dance activities [PDF, 462KB]
  3. Ideas and script for an assembly-style presentation [PDF, 230KB]
  4. Images of Linlithgow Palace to accompany the assembly presentation ideas [PowerPoint, 1MB]

For learners:

  1. A quiz about the film [PowerPoint, 2MB]
  2. A palace-inspired wordsearch [PDF, 81KB]
  3. A code-breaking activity sheet [PDF, 85KB]

Twinkl resources about Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle for primary learners

Our friends at Twinkl have created 11 fantastic new resources about two of our best-known historic sites. Visit the Twinkl website to download free-to-access resources, including:

  • PowerPoint introductions to Edinburgh Castle & Stirling Castle
  • A research scavenger hunt activity about Edinburgh Castle
  • Differentiated reading comprehension resources for both castles
  • A podcast about Stirling Castle's past offering creative writing inspiration
  • A hotspot picture giving information about Edinburgh Castle's prisons of war
  • A QR timeline activity about Edinburgh Castle
  • A cooperative learning activity based on children's jobs at Stirling Castle
  • A Stirling Castle timeline matching activity
  • Blether station cards about Edinburgh Castle's artefacts

Some of these resources are also available in Gaelic and the full set of translations will be available soon.

Cyber skills lesson - Defend Stirling Castle!

What do you get when you cross an ancient medieval castle with cutting edge cyber security? Help your learners build cyber security skills to defend one of Scotland's most important historical sites - Stirling Castle. No knowledge of long-swords required. During the interactive online game your learners will find out about modern cyber security defences and their medieval parallels and work together to stop the attack.

Upper primary Maths Challenge booklet - can be used at any castle!

This printable A5 pupil booklet and accompanying teachers' notes can be used to inspire learners with outdoor maths challenges whilst they visit a historic castle. Explore symmetry, angles, money, shapes and different units of measurement.

World War One trail at Edinburgh Castle for upper primary

Learners can step into the shoes of a First World War recruit arriving at Edinburgh Castle for the first time with a brand new learning resource!

Designed for primary 5-7, the WWI Trail is full of activities to help young learners explore how soldiers might have felt and thought about their new role. There are tips and teachers notes including objects to find, questions to answer, and creative writing and drawing challenges.

This resource has been created in partnership with National Museums Scotland, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum, the Royal Scots Museum and the Museum of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, and the Scottish National War Memorial.

The trail is designed to be used during a visit to Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle Maths Quest

Aimed at P5-7 pupils, your learners can enjoy this Edinburgh Castle themed maths quest in the classroom, at home or outdoors. 

Alternatively, if you're visiting Edinburgh Castle with your learners you'll want to use this on-site version.

Investigating the Sealants of the Declaration of Arbroath

This resource, produced jointly with National Records of Scotland, allows P7/S1 pupils studying the Scottish Wars of Independence to investigate the individuals who attached their seals to the Declaration of Arbroath. The resource pack consists of teachers’ notes, a Declaration of Arbroath information sheet, a set of sealant information sheets, and a student task sheet.

Declaration of Arbroath resources

Illustrated activity booklet about the Declaration of Arbroath and accompanying teachers' notes.

Heritage at your fingertips

Ideas for learning practitioners looking to explore heritage digitally with learners.

Drama activities for primary schools

Take a peek at seven drama activities that can support topics such as Castles and Wars of Independence. They were created by drama specialist and author Barbara Henderson to celebrate her new novel for upper primary pupils – The Siege of Caerlaverock. You’ll find a reflective reading classroom pack, featuring a range of Historic Environment Scotland learning resources, on the Cranachan Publishing website

Virtual visits to Edinburgh & Stirling Castles

If you’re looking for a virtual class trip, delve into our Edinburgh and Stirling Castle online resources with your learners. We can’t wait to hear how educators use these resources to develop learning activities. Do let us know how you craft your #LearningWithHES!

Take a look at some sample virtual visit ideas for using the resources:

Primary Sources

Scran - digital heritage and cultural resources 
Access half a million images, videos and audio files on material culture and human history.

National Record of the Historic Environment
Explore archaeological, industrial and maritime sites and buildings across Scotland.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties in Care Collections
Delve into the history of Scotland by exploring our historic object collections.

Locate Scotland’s archaeological and historic sites on this interactive online map (includes a short video tutorial)

Antonine Wall finds
Search the database for a large number of finds along the Antonine Wall

Historic Environment Scotland’s Sketchfab account

Explore over 300 3D models of historic sites such as Edinburgh and Caerlaverock Castles and varied collection items.

Learning Links

Antonine Wall learning resources

Edinburgh World Heritage learning resources

Go Forth - Forth Bridge learning resources

BBC Teach short films about castles in the UK (first level)

BBC Bitesize short films about castles in Scotland (second level)

BBC Teach longer films about castles in the UK (third level)

Archaeology Scotland’s Heritage Resources Portal (resources from multiple organisations)

People of medieval Scotland resources by University of Glasgow and Education Scotland (castle themes for early, second and fourth level)

Forestry and Land Scotland's Into the Wildwoods resource about Mesolithic hunter-gatherers

Forestry and Land Scotland's The First Foresters resource about the Neolithic pioneers

Careers in Heritage

Could some of your learners play a part in Scotland’s history? You can find out about some of the different roles we do by watching our videos about Working in Heritage.

Your learners will hear remarkable stories from people working at HES who will tell you all about their roles, including:

  • Modern apprentices at Edinburgh Castle
  • Interns at the Engine Shed
  • Visitor operations staff at Melrose Abbey, Cairnpapple Hill and Urquhart Castle
  • Conservation staff

We've also developed an interdisciplinary resource with Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) and other heritage organisations that focuses on heritage careers - it's aimed at S2-S4 students and links to the 3rd and 4th level of the Curriculum for Excellence. The resource been developed to provide activity over two 50 minute lessons, but content can be used separately to support in class learning and extracurricular sessions. It uses interactive activities to broaden students awareness of what the heritage sector is, the diversity of job roles within it and the skills required to do those roles. Learners will be able to use this knowledge in the 'design a visitor centre' activity. To find out more and download the resources, please visit the DYW website and scroll down to the Cultural Heritage Careers section.

We’d love to hear how you've used these resources – do share your #LearningWithHES with us online!

If you’d like to give us feedback on these resources please get in touch by emailing learning@hes.scot.

9 Castle Science

What comes to mind when you think of castles?
Are they impenetrable fortresses or feats of science, maths, and engineering?  They were both! 

In this film explore the innovative science, technology, engineering, and maths used in castle construction and destruction.

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Have you ever wanted to design or lay siege to a castle? 
Join our adventure to build and experiment with different types of catapults and archways using objects  you can easily find at home. Learn about friction, force, gravity, and combustion as you  discover the science behind designing, building, and besieging a castle!

Catapult Conundrum

Amazing Arches

These activities were developed by Glasgow Science Centre in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland.