The Chain Mail

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Staging a Satire


Staff from the Interpretation Unit were busy last week setting up a temporary exhibition at Stirling Castle about Scotland’s oldest surviving play, A Satire of the Three Estates.

This epic drama was performed at Linlithgow Palace in June 2013 – believed to be the first full performance in over 460 years. The play was written by court poet Sir David Lyndsay and an early version was performed for James V at Linlithgow Palace in 1540. It was later developed in to a full-day outdoor spectacle. The provocative drama blurred the lines between theatre and reality, asking bold questions about the Scottish kingdom and how it should be run.

Preparing the exhibition at Stirling Castle

Dressing the mannequins for display

The new exhibition features some of the costumes and props from last year’s production, including the costumes worn by the characters Rex Humanitas  (King Humanity), Good Counsel, Lady Sensuality  and Lady Chastity. You can also discover Folly’s costume which was directly inspired by the carving of James V’s jester on one of the famous Stirling Heads.

Some of the costumes on display at Stirling Castle

Insert: The Stirling Head. Left: Actor Gerry Mulgrew as Folly. Right: Setting the scene

Directed by Gregory Thompson, the 2013 production was a joint project between Historic Scotland, the Arts and Humanities Research Council,  the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Brunel. It took the play back to its roots with the full performance taking place at Linlithgow Palace – the location for which the play was first written. The project team also recreated the shorter original version, staging this in the great hall at Linlithgow and also Stirling Castle, where in 1540 James V was busy building his renaissance palace.

A Satire of the Three Estates at Linlithgow Peel June 2013

Taking to the stage at Linlithgow Palace in June 2013

Visit Stirling Castle this summer to learn more about this remarkable play and the project that brought it back to life. The exhibition will run until 28 September.

Three of the costumes on display this summer

Dressing the part – three of the costumes on display this summer



About Author

Jean Burke

Jean works in the marketing department focusing mainly on our events programme. She mostly blogs about upcoming events, campaigns and all the wonderful goings-on at Historic Scotland.

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