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Put that Playstation down and become a nature detective!

25 June 2009

Historic Scotland’s Rangers Service is recruiting young nature detectives for school holiday events at two outstanding historic sites - Linlithgow Peel and Blackness Castle.   

The Rangers have planned a host of exciting outdoors activities for primary-class children, with fun hands-on Tuesday morning sessions at both sites aimed at encouraging and enabling youngsters to learn about and appreciate wildlife and the natural environment.

At Linlithgow Peel there are mini-beast hunts on the 14th July and 4th August, when children will search for bugs and creepy-crawlies and investigate their natural habitat. On 21st July there’s an opportunity to take part in an art session and make pictures using natural materials such as leaves, grasses and flowers.  And on 28th July the youngsters will be loch dipping, as they explore the creatures found in the waters of Linlithgow Loch, such as mayfly nymphs, pond snails and water boatmen.

At Blackness Castle on Tuesday 11th August, creativity is the name of the game, when children will be challenged to make sculptures using driftwood.  

All of the sessions at the two sites take place from 10am to 12 noon.  They are targeted at children of 5-years-old and upwards.  Please note that children taking part must be accompanied by an adult, and that places for all of the events should be booked in advance by calling 01506 842065 or emailing

Countryside Ranger Ian Lewis said: “Both of these locations are important natural habitats for a huge range of wildlife species - on the land, in the water and in the skies.  Linlithgow Loch is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its large wildfowl population, and at Blackness, the adjacent bay and tidal mudflats are important feeding and roosting sites for wildfowl.  

“As well as being great fun, activities like mini-beast hunts and loch dipping encourage kids to find their entertainment outdoors, away from the TV and screen games, and realise that nature offers them lots of exciting things to do.  

“And of course, our Nature Detective sessions aim to encourage their appreciation of the extensive and diverse range of wildlife and fantastic natural environments which can be found not only at these two historic locations but also in many places in their local area.’

Notes for editors

  • The magnificent ruins of Linlithgow Palace - set in the Royal Park or Peel, beside Linlithgow Loch - are situated in Linlithgow, off the M9.  Tel: 01506 842896.  Admission: adult £5.20, child £2.60, concessions £4.20.

  • The Palace is perhaps best known as the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots in 1542 and of her father, James V, who was born in 1512.  All of the Stewart kings lived here, and numerous renovations to its grand facades and chambers were carried out as each monarch sought to create the ideal modern palace.  A royal manor had been on the site of the Palace since the 12th century. It was transformed by the English into a modern secure stronghold around 1302 before returning  to Scottish hands in 1314.  A fire in 1424 destroyed the stronghold and burgh of Linlithgow and James I then started building the structure we have today. Under James IV, it developed into a courtyard palace, while James V and James VI made major contributions to what had become the finest palace of the Stewart kings.

  • Blackness Castle is situated 4 miles north-east of Linlithgow, on the Firth of Forth, off the A904.  Tel: 01506 834807.  Admission: adult £4.20, child £2.10, concessions £3.20.

  • Blackness sits at the seaport which, in medieval times, served the royal burgh of Linlithgow.  The first castle was built in the 15th century by one of Scotland’s most powerful families, the Crichtons.  But Blackness was never destined to serve as a peaceful lordly residence.  In 1453, it became a royal castle and its enduring roles were those of garrison fortress and state prison. In 1537, works started which transformed the castle into one of the most formidable artillery fortifications in Scotland. In 1650 it was besieged and badly damaged by Cromwell’s army but repaired under King Charles II and the restored fortress was then used to incarcerate Covenanters.  

  • Linlithgow Palace and Peel and Blackness Castle are amongst over 345 345 heritage properties and sites in the care of Historic Scotland.  These range from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings. 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:

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

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting Scotland’s Homecoming 2009 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