Site closure for filming

We can’t allow film crews to close any part of a site or ask visitors to move out of shot while a site is open to the public. Our purpose is to safeguard Scotland’s built heritage for the enjoyment of all, so filming mustn’t in any way disrupt the visitor experience.

You can use the whole of the monument without having to worry about visitors if you can film outside of opening hours. This will incur a staffing fee in addition to the standard fee for filming.

Site protection

Our properties are of national importance. Most are scheduled monuments protected by law, and as such are extremely sensitive sites. 

Visiting film crews must ensure that they don’t cause any damage. It’s a criminal offence to cause damage to a scheduled monument, whether on purpose or by mistake. 

Equipment can’t be attached to any part of a monument. 

All lighting, tripods and any other structures must:

  • be freestanding
  • have rubber footing to avoid any damage to the monument 

For example, freestanding counterweighted rigs may be used for overhead camera shots. 

Nothing must penetrate the ground. This is to protect any archaeology that has not yet been discovered. Many of our sites are ancient monuments with potentially rich archaeological deposits.

Unmanned aerial vehicles 

Requests to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

UAV filming will be allowed only if the following are in place:

  • a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) accredited operator, who can show proof of credentials
  • a risk assessment conducted by the operator and approved by our Monument Conservation Unit
  • agreement that the operator will abide by all CAA guidelines for UAV usage
  • the site must be closed to the public and unoccupied
  • a member of staff to supervise filming on site 

Find out more on the Civil Aviation Authority website.

Foam, smoke, liquids and other effects 

All applications that include the use of smoke or other effects must state:

  • the effect you wish to use
  • where you intend to use the effect
  • the chemical composition of the materials involved in the effect 

It may be possible to use certain effects in some areas (e.g. grass) and not others (e.g. stone). Each effect will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must also be included in the risk assessment. 

Film crew size

We may ask you to reduce your numbers if you request a large crew for a busy site. While a crew of 50 might be no problem in the spacious Holyrood Park, it could cause disruption at Edinburgh Castle, which has 1.4 million visitors per year.

Replica weapons

Prop weapons such as swords and other bladed weapons can be brought on site as long as they are blunted and risk assessed. We must see certification for any replica guns before filming begins.

Fort George and Edinburgh Castle are run in partnership with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and have a military presence. The MOD will be told of all requests to use replica weapons at these sites and may ask to inspect such items.

Use of animals

You may be able to use animals on site as long as:

  • they are controlled properly
  • their use is risk assessed
  • you hold the relevant paperwork for the movement of any cattle or other livestock

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