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Exclusive Burns Tours of Stirling Castle

15 July 2009

An evening at a great Scottish historic attraction – complete with haggis

Three exclusive evening tours have been arranged to celebrate Robert Burns’ links with Stirling and its castle.

They take place in August, around the anniversary of the poet’s visit to the castle in 1787 after which he wrote the “Stirling lines” lamenting the passing of the Royal Stewarts and deploring the castle’s state of disrepair.

Rather more recently Historic Scotland has carried out far-reaching refurbishments and is currently undertaking a £12 million project to return the royal palace to how it may have looked when first built in the mid-16th century.

However when Burns was there, the castle was a military garrison and some areas were in a run-down condition.

During his first stay he, and his travelling companion Willie Nicol, visited the castle on the evening of the 26th August 1787.  The following evening he dined with local men – Dr David Doig, rector of Stirling Grammar School, Christopher Bell, a singing teacher and Lieutenant Forrester from Stirling Castle’s garrison.   

It is possible that Burns may have breakfasted at the castle the morning after with Lieutenant Forrester.

Ross Blevins, the castle’s head steward who has prepared and will lead the tours, said: “Townsfolk took the poet to their heart and for years after this first visit the 27th of August was celebrated in Stirling with Burns’ suppers.

“We thought that in this Year of Homecoming, which celebrates the 250th anniversary of his birth, it was an ideal time to mark Burns’ links to Stirling, its castle and the surrounding countryside, and the manner with which this influenced his literary work."

“The three tours will be a chance to look back on his life, while enjoying the rare opportunity to savour the atmosphere of the castle in the evening, after the gates are normally closed.”

Visitors will be taken round many parts of the castle, including the outer defences, the Great Kitchen and the Great Hall.

A three-course meal in the castle’s Unicorn Cafe featuring haggis, neeps and tatties followed by shortbread, tea and coffee will round off each tour.

The events, which are entitled Robert Burns and Stirling Castle An Exclusive Homecoming Evening Tour, will be limited to 60 visitors each.

Media invitation

A preview tour is being held on the evening of 14, July from 6.30-9.30pm for which a small number of places have been reserved for the media.

Any members of the media who would like to join the tour should contact Nicola McCrae, Marketing Executive on 01786 431325 or   

Notes for editors:

  • Burns actually scratched the Stirling lines into the window of Wingate’s Inn where he was staying (now known as the Golden Lion just down from the castle) with a diamond stylus. They were very critical of the Hanoverian monarchy and caused some controversy for Burns.

  • When Burns returned to Stirling in October that year he smashed the window on which the lines were written with his riding crop. However, the lines had already been copied and were circulating fast

  • Historic Scotland has 345 historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit:

  • The tours take place on the Fridays of 7th, 14th and 21st August and start at 6.30pm sharp from the Guardroom Square.

  • The evenings last approximately three hours. Tickets cost £25, with meal included.

  • Tickets must be purchased in advance by telephoning 01786 431 312 or from the castle gift shop.

  • Outdoor clothing and appropriate footwear is recommended.

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871