CASTLES, ABBEYS, PALACES AND FORTS
From 15 July many of Historic Scotland's site are being opened. For more information, see below.
Discover the stories about the people, the places and the families that have shaped over 5,000 years of Scottish history.
Below are some of the best of our stories, but click here for information on all Historic Scotland sites in Scotland.
Covid-19 Update: Historic Scotland is pleased to announce the phased re-opening of their sites. For full details visit
www.historicenvironment.scot/our-reopening-plans-and-covid-19-response/ Below is some key information.
Since 15 July, Historic Scotland has opened over 200 outdoor key-keeper and unstaffed sites, which have free entry, Including the grounds of Doune Castle in Perthshire; Caerlaveock Castle in Dumfries and Galloway; Aberdour Castle in Fife; and Dundonald Castle, north of Oban..
From 1 August Exterior access to Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles will be opened, as well as access to interior spaces where social distancing can be easily maintained. By the end of August further internal spaces will be opened at Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle - in line with guidance from the Scottish Government.
A further 23 sites will be opened in the course of August and September. For full details visit
Historic Scotland's priority is the health of their visitors, members and staff. and measures are in place to make everyone feel comfortable. These include online booking for all visitors so that Historic Scotland can manage capacity and physical distancing. There may also be one-way systems and some areas of sites may be closed off. For full information on all the sites, when they are open, how to book, etc, please visit https://www.historicenvironment.scot/
Edinburgh Castle: A mighty fortress, the defender of the nation and a world-famous visitor attraction, the Castle has dominated Edinburgh's skyline for centuries. The mighty volcanic rock on which it stands has been occupied for thousands of years. Today, Edinburgh Castle is home to Scotland's Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny (on which, centuries ago, the kings of Scotland were crowned), three military museums, the National War Memorial, the Prisons of War exhibition, and much more. Make sure you have time to explore all of them - at least two hours.
Stirling Castle: Stirling Castle is one of Scotland's most celebrated and best-loved castles. For centuries, Scotland's Stewart monarchs held court here and enhanced its beauty and grandeur. Stirling Castle's Royal Palace has been impressively restored to its Renaissance glory and, with its lavishly decorated rooms and costumed characters, the Palace is at the heart of the experience.
Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness. Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart Castle was the scene of great conflict during its 500 years as a medieval fortress. Control of the Castle passed back and forth between the Scots and the English during the Wars of Independence in the early 14th century. The power struggle continued as the Lords of the Isles regularly raided both the Castle and the glen up to the 1500s. The last of the government troops garrisoned here during the Jacobite Risings in the 18h century blew up the Castle when they left. Urquhart’s iconic ruins remain, offering glimpses into medieval times and the lives of its noble residents. Urquhart Castle sits on the banks of Loch Ness, in which, it is said, lives the Loch Ness Monster.
Each Historic Scotland site offers a glimpse of Scotland's past. Some are places of majesty (the castles above), some date back thousands of years (Skara Bare on Orkney) ad some are just so fascinating that you have to visit, such as Threave Castle on its own little island in Dumfries and Galloway, and Inchmahome Priory on an island in the Lake of Menteith - and all have a special place in Scottish history. Explore our website to learn more about Scotland's heritage.
Thistle Holiday Parks: wherever you stay, you will find a Historic Scotland castle, abbey or fort nearby.