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Castle stewards offer an insight into the lives of Robert Burns and Jean Armour

18 January 2011

One of Scotland’s most famous and fascinating romantic duos will be brought to life at St Andrews Castle this weekend when Robert Burns and his wife, Jean Armour, are portrayed by stewards Niall Robertson and Karen Nichols.

Visitors are invited along on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd to hear tales of the prolific Ayrshire-born poet who, despite his undoubted love for his ‘Bonnie Jean’ and eventual marriage to her after she bore their second set of twins, never give up his ferocious appetite for philandering and had a lifelong succession of casual affairs.  

Long-suffering Jean, who endured castigation by her family for her relationship with Burns, bore him nine children - the last on the day of his funeral in 1796.  She survived Burns by 38 years, living to see his work become celebrated throughout the world.  Twenty years after his death his remains were transferred from their modest grave in Dumfries to a specially commissioned mausoleum and when Jean died in 1834, she was also buried there.  Today, there are statues of her in both Dumfries and in her birthplace, Mauchline.

At the weekend event at St Andrews Castle, the lives of Burns and his devoted wife will be illustrated by Niall and Karen through stories, as well as poems and songs by Burns.   The entertainment – which takes place at 12.00 noon and 2.00pm on both days – is included in the admission price to the castle (£5.20 for adults, £3.10 for children and £4.20 for concessions).  Visitors will also be able to enjoy free tastings of oatcakes and shortbread.

Monument Manager Alison Sullivan says: “Niall, a fine singer who has an interest in amateur dramatics, and Karen, a history graduate, are both highly talented so visitors are in for a real treat as well as an entertaining insight into the lives of two really captivating characters from Scottish history.  We hope as many people as possible will come along to enjoy our celebration of Robert Burns and Jean Armour.”


  • St Andrews Castle is situated in St Andrews on the A91. Postcode KY16 9AR. Tel: 01334 477196.

  • On a headland to the north of St Andrews, the ruined castle was once the main residence of the bishops and archbishops of St Andrews – the focal point of the Church in medieval Scotland.  Cardinal Beaton was murdered here in 1546.  Today, visitors can explore the underground 16th-century siege mine and counter mine and the ‘bottle dungeon’.  There is also a visitor centre with exhibition.

  • St Andrews Castle is just one of 345 outstanding heritage properties and sites in the care of Historic Scotland.  Ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings, these include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country. Among the most popular are Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Skara Brae, and the Border Abbeys.  For further details of all of Historic Scotland’s sites visit:

  • Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

For further information, interviews and images

Ellen Drummond Ferroni
0131 668 8734 / 07801 820757