Edinburgh Castle raises the standard of its visitor experience
17 April 2008
Scotland's leading attraction celebrates completion of £2.7m improvement scheme
New flags have been hoisted at Edinburgh Castle to mark the raising of the standard of the visitor experience at Scotland’s premier attraction – achieved through a major investment programme to improve services and facilities for visitors.
The flags bear Edinburgh Castle’s distinctive and recently launched logo of a mighty lion perched on a rock. This was created as part of Historic Scotland’s strategy to heighten the Castle’s status as a world-class attraction by strengthening its unique identity and conveying its character and importance in history and as an national symbol and cultural resource.
The raising of the new flags signals the culmination of the Edinburgh Castle Visitor Reception Project, a £2.7 million scheme designed to achieve a series of significant enhancements to visitor services and ensure every one of the iconic heritage property’s 1.2 million visitors a year enjoys an unrivalled and unforgettable experience of it.
Project’s priorities were to provide a warmer welcome for visitors, cut queues and make entry and exit to the castle quicker and easier. Project milestones have included the removal of the old ticket office on the Esplanade to give visitors uninterrupted views of the stunning Castle on arrival, the creation of a contemporary new ticket office and visitor reception area - designed by one of Scotland’s leading architectural practices and offering stunning views of the capital - the introduction of a streamlined new ticketing system to enable fast-track admissions, the development of the Castle’s new branding and logo, the launch of Edinburgh Castle’s own official website, and the introduction of striking new uniforms for visitor services staff featuring the new, exclusive Edinburgh Castle Tartan.
Barbara Smith, Executive Manager of Edinburgh Castle, said: “All of these key developments have been carefully designed to make the experience of visiting the Castle even more pleasurable.
“The redevelopment of our admissions and ticketing systems mean that it’s now easier and quicker for visitors to access the Castle and time isn’t wasted queuing. We wanted visitors to get a great impression of Scotland’s premier attraction from the moment they arrive and are enabled to make the most of their time here exploring and enjoying all there is to see and do at the Castle.
“All of the other elements of the Edinburgh Visitor Reception Project – from our new informative and interactive website which enables visits to be planned in advance, the new branding and logo used in our signage, vehicle livery and visitor publications, to our new tartan staff uniforms – mean that the Castle now has an even stronger, more memorable and more distinctive image, reflecting the prestige of such a world-famous attraction.”
Chris Watkins, Historic Scotland Head of Major Projects, who led the Edinburgh Castle Visitor Reception Project, said: “It has been great to see all of the elements of this ambitious investment scheme come together. Staff at the Castle and throughout many departments of Historic Scotland have worked extremely hard on this major project and I’m extremely grateful to everyone involved for their enthusiasm, support and hard work.
“I’m confident that all of the visitor services improvements achieved through the Project will help ensure Edinburgh Castle offers an unrivalled visitor experience, is recognised as a truly world-class attraction, and stands out in the increasingly competitive leisure and business tourism market at home and abroad.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- Edinburgh Castle’s website is at www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk. The online ticket purchasing facility is featured in the website’s ‘Plan Your Visit’ section.
- Edinburgh Castle is one of 345 heritage properties and sites from the Highlands and Islands to the Borders, 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. In addition to Edinburgh Castle, some of the most popular are Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Skara Brae, and the Border Abbeys. (For further details visit: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/properties ) Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.
- Edinburgh Castle, built on the 340 million-year-old remains of an extinct volcano, dominates the Scottish capital city’s skyline just as it has dominated Scotland’s history. The ‘stronghold of Eidyn’ was first recorded before 600AD and by the Middle Ages, it had become a mighty fortification and the favoured royal residence of Scotland’s kings and queens. Many defining moments of Scottish history have taken place there. In 1140, the castle became the first recorded meeting place of the assembly we now know as the Scottish Parliament. In 1566, it was the birthplace of the only child of Mary Queen of Scots; a son who grew up to unite the crowns of Scotland and England. And in 1689, it endured its last full siege when the garrison became the last defenders of the Stewart king James VII and II.
The castle’s top attractions are:
- i. The Honours of Scotland – the nation’s crown jewels.
- ii. The Stone of Destiny – the coronation stone of the ancient kings of Scots.
- iii. The Great Hall, Laich Hall, King’s Dining Room and St Margaret’s Chapel - some of the remarkable medieval rooms and buildings where kings, queens and great nobles wined, dined and worshipped.
- iv. The Prisons of War Experience – thousands of military prisoners were held in the castle over the centuries. There is now a major recreation of what it was like at the end of the 18th century.
- v. National War Memorial - an impressive building commemorating those who have died in conflict from World War I onwards. There are also three military museums at the castle.
- vi. Mons Meg – a huge medieval siege gun that fired stones weighing 150kg (330lbs) for 3.2km (two miles).
- vii. The One O’clock Gun – fired daily, except the Sabbath and certain holidays, as a time signal.
- viii. The Dog Cemetery – the last resting place of regimental mascots and the faithful friends of many officers.