• Amy Middleton


The Honours of Scotland are set to go on public display again as Edinburgh Castle gets ready to open its doors to visitors once more. The Honours, which includes the Crown and Sceptre of Scotland, were first used by Mary, Queen of Scots and were famously hidden after the Act of Union in 1707 until they were rediscovered many years later by author Sir Walter Scott.

Visitors will be able to view the Honours in a social distanced setting with a new queuing system implemented in Crown Square to manage access. This follows other innovations at the site, including the introduction of painted circles around the world famous one o’clock gun, as well as the use of QR codes and new audio guides to continue to tell the story of one of Scotland’s most iconic sites.

Edinburgh Castle is one of over 20 ticketed sites that Historic Environment Scotland has opened across Scotland, after COVID-19 restrictions have been eased in mainland Scotland, with tickets going on sale on a pre-booked basis to the public earlier in April. Other iconic heritage sites that have reopened in Scotland include Stirling Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Urquhart Castle, St Andrews Castle, Melrose Abbey, and Dirleton Castle.

As of the 30th April, 70% of Historic Environment Scotland sites, which operate under the Historic Scotland brand, have opened to the public, including ticketed and over 200 free-to-access sites. Further tickets sites are due to reopen on a rolling basis over the coming months.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland, visited Edinburgh Castle on 29th April for a preview ahead of the official reopening to the public. He said: “Our heritage sites are home to over 5,000 years of history and we can’t wait to welcome visitors back once more so they can once again experience Scotland’s history”.

“As before, there will be measures in place to facilitate social distancing, as well as new innovations to the visitor experience including new audio tours and digital content. We know how much people enjoy being able to access heritage sites, and we’ve worked hard to provide a mix of sites across the country, with over 70% of our sites opening up on the 30th, and many others on a phased basis over the next few months”.

“On the eve of what is a historic reopening, it’s been great to be at the castle and to see all the hard work of the teams coming to fruition as we get ready to welcome visitors once more”.

As before, safety measures will be in place, with visitors being required to wear face coverings in indoor spaces and some enclosed spaces where social distancing can’t be easily maintained. There will also be an initial capacity management on numbers, as well as one-way systems in some locations, with visitors being asked to use contactless payment where possible.

All sites will follow the Historic Environment Scotland minimum operating standards (view here), which were developed to set a benchmark for the safe reopening of historic sites and resumption of operational activities.

It is advised that tickets be booked online in advance from the Historic Environment Scotland website at restarthistory.scot


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