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Many historic places are still open for visitors, outwith Level 4 COVID protection areas. Book in advance and check if Scottish Government travel restrictions apply before travelling.

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Teaching resources

Get even more out of your visit with our wide range of free teaching resources for schools and groups.

1 Overview

Make the most of a visit by preparing for your day with the help of our wide range of resources for teachers and group leaders.

Background information and tour notes let you familiarise yourself with a site before you arrive. You can work out the most relevant highlights for your group and plan your route accordingly. There are also activities and resources to try before, during and after the visit, and you can find a variety of colouring sheets, quizzes and trails in our make-and-take section.

Our teaching resources, including themed resources relating to school projects, are designed to support the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence.

All downloads are free to use. Handling boxes – for use on site during a visit – can be booked in advance.

Many of our resources are also available in Gaelic. Find out about our full range of Gaelic resources.

We’re looking to refresh our teaching and learning resources – if you’d like to share any feedback on what you’d like added or improved, please email amy.mcdonald@hes.scot or catriona.hood@hes.scot. Or if you’d be happy to provide feedback on ad hoc projects, we’d be glad to add you to our Learning Resources Advisory Group email list!

2 Themed resources

Download a range of guides to help your study of places, people, events, themes and objects from Scotland’s past.

Evidence record 

Learners can use our evidence record to note down discoveries as they investigate our sites.

See our guide to Gaelic resources for Gaelic versions of this and other materials. 

Investigating Historic Sites: Places

Abbeys and Priories in Scotland
Castles in Scotland
Early Carved Stones
Go Forth Digital Learning Resources
Heritage on your Doorstep

Investigating Historic Sites: People

Mary Queen of Scots

Investigating Historic Sites: Events

Edinburgh Castle Jacobite Trail
The Jacobite Risings
The Wars of Independence: 1296–1357

Life in medieval Scotland

Cooking in a Castle
Cooking in the Village
Feasting in the Great Hall
Having Fun
Keeping Clean
Working in a Castle

Investigating Historic Sites: Special Themes

Declaration of Arbroath: Illustrated Activity Booklet
The Ironwork of Stornoway
Prisons of War
Castle Quest teacher-led trail

Investigating Historic Sites: Carved Stones

The Aberlemno Stone
The Achnabreck Cup-and-Ring Marked Rock
The Drosten Stone
The Dunfallandy Stone
St John’s Cross, Iona
St Martin’s Cross, Iona
St Vigeans Museum of Carved Stones
Sueno’s Stone
Temple Wood Stone Circle

Forestry Commission Scotland resources

Recumbent Stone Circles
The Picts

3 Site guides

Start getting to know a site before you even set foot in it. It’s the best way to give your learners a head start on the day of your visit.

Our Investigating Historic Sites series of downloads covers more than 35 of our properties.

Each site guide typically provides:

  • a timeline and historical background
  • ideas for before the visit
  • approaches for working on site
  • suggestions for follow-up work
  • tour notes for the most important locations on site
  • notes about visiting the site
  • links to additional resources for teachers and pupils

Investigating Historic Sites downloads

Arbroath Abbey [PDF, 1.45MB]
The Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces, Kirkwall [PDF, 1.39MB]
Blackness Castle [PDF, 856KB]
Bothwell Castle [PDF, 1.22MB]
Claypotts Castle [PDF, 929KB]
Corgarff Castle [PDF, 1.21MB]
Craigmillar Castle [PDF, 1.02MB]
Dirleton Castle [PDF, 1.04MB]
Doune Castle [PDF, 1.13MB]
Dryburgh Abbey [PDF, 1.65MB]
Dundrennan Abbey [PDF, 1.18MB]
Dunfermline Abbey [PDF, 1.11MB]
Edinburgh Castle [PDF, 1.67MB]
Elgin Cathedral [PDF, 925KB]
Fort George [PDF, 1.47MB]
Holyrood Park [PDF, 3.4MB]
Huntingtower Castle [PDF, 1.33MB]
Huntly Castle [PDF, 1.05MB]
Jedburgh Abbey [PDF, 1.2MB]
Kildrummy Castle [PDF, 1.25MB]
Linlithgow Palace [PDF, 1.23MB]
MacLellan’s Castle [PDF, 1.24MB]
Melrose Abbey [PDF, 1.5MB]
New Abbey Corn Mill [PDF, 1.15MB]
Ruthven Barracks [PDF, 1.22MB]
St Andrews Castle [PDF, 1.17MB]
St Andrews Cathedral [PDF, 1.08MB]
St Bridget’s Kirk [PDF, 1.21MB]
Stanley Mills [PDF, 2.66MB]
Stirling Castle and Palace [PDF, 4.53MB]
Sweetheart Abbey [PDF, 1.27MB]
Tantallon Castle [PDF, 958KB]
Threave Castle [PDF, 877KB]
Tolquhon Castle [PDF, 980KB]
Urquhart Castle [PDF, 964KB]
Whithorn Priory and Museum [PDF, 1.02MB]

Stirling Castle tour route leaflet

Stirling Castle Overview Route – English [PDF, 1.71MB]
Stirling Castle Overview Route – French [PDF, 350KB]
Stirling Castle Overview Route – German [PDF, 1.37MB]

4 Handling boxes

Book a handling box as part of a schools activity to let learners really get to grips with history.

A themed box of high quality objects makes for fun, hands-on learning. As well as bringing the past to life, handling boxes can provide inspiration for creative responses.

Handling boxes can be used with learners of all ages and abilities.

Activities listings will tell you if handling boxes are available. Search our Schools Activity Programme.

Support materials

Some handling boxes have support materials that you can download before your visit or pick up on site. These are listed below.

5 Make and create

These creative resources take a playful look at a range of themes. We hope you enjoy using them at home, at school, at one of our historic sites or wherever your group meets up!

Craft and play activities

NEW - Playful Pack: play castles at home!
Design a castle stronghold [PDF, 2.53MB]
Make a mini catapult [PDF, 1.67MB]
Make your own heraldic shield [PDF, 533KB]
Make your own jousting helmet [PDF, 130KB]
Make your own lion or unicorn puppet [PDF, 352KB]

Colouring sheets

NEW - Castle [PDF, 375KB]
NEW - Crown [PDF, 768KB]
NEW - Jousting Knight [PDF, 855KB]
NEW - Unicorn [PDF, 659KB]
Drummer Boy [PDF, 148KB]
Hebridean Girl [PDF, 160KB]
Knight [PDF, 140KB]
Monk [PDF, 128KB]
Pictish Boy [PDF, 120KB]
Princess [PDF, 154KB]
Viking Warrior [PDF, 132KB]

Scran resources

Scran is available to anyone wishing to access its more than 480,000 digital resources for studying heritage.

Find out more about Scran.

6 Search all learning publications

Find educational publications for purchase as well as a wide range of learning resources that you can download for free.

Search for learning publications by keyword, category and/or publication date.

Search publications

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