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Meet the most famous Mother in Scottish History - and treat your own like a Queen

31 March 2011

This Sunday, celebrate Mother’s Day at Edinburgh Castle - and come face to face with Scottish history's most famous mother, Mary Queen of Scots.

In 1566, Mary gave birth at the castle to her only child – a son who grew up to unite the crowns of Scotland and England and rule as King James VI and I.

And on Mothering Sunday, 3rd April, the dramatic backdrop of the castle’s Great Hall will provide an apt setting for a series of light-hearted and engaging costumed performances featuring the enigmatic and beautiful Scottish queen and members of her entourage.

Focusing on different aspects of what life was like for mothers in the 16th century -  and touching on everything from social customs, etiquette and costume to politics, religion and witchcraft - the colourful performances provide a fascinating glimpse into Mary’s life and times, highlighting a host of interesting historic details.  For example, visitors will learn what the royal midwife received as her reward and why it resulted in a right royal makeover.  They’ll also find out why Mary named her favourite shortbread after ladies’ undergarments, and why an obsession with fashion and makeup is no modern phenomenon – and in the Renaissance could even risk your life.

Mary was certainly not short of her enemies so ensuring her safe protection was a full-time challenge.  On Sunday, her guards will be demonstrating the weaponry at their disposal – and whilst Edinburgh Castle’s famous One O Clock Gun is not fired on a Sunday, there will instead be a special Mothering Sunday volley of musket fire.

Visiting Mums will be able to dine like a queen at the castle on Sunday as the Queen Anne Café has a treat in store for them - a special Mothers' Day lunch and afternoon teas.

The lunch menu – which is superb value at £18.00 - offers a tempting selection featuring starters including plum tomato soup and croutons and course pork country pate, plum chutney and oatcakes.  The delicious mains include pan roasted chicken breast, tian of root vegetables, with mushroom and white wine cream sauce, and seared salmon, lemon, cherry tomato salsa and skirlie potatoes.  And dessert lovers won’t be able to resist soft chocolate cake, orange caramel cinnamon tuille, Cranachan cheesecake or a selection of Isle of Arran ice cream.

The afternoon teas consist of a selection of mouthwatering sandwiches, cakes, and scones with cream and jam.  And at the Red Coat Café there will also be Mother’s Day cookies for sale.

Visitors browsing in the castle’s gift shops will find a host of ideas for Mother’s Day presents including the elegant new ‘Symbols’ range, which is exclusive to Historic Scotland and includes a beautiful devore scarf (£40) a mirror compact and a pendant, both at £14.95.   

Entry to Edinburgh Castle and Sunday’s Mother’s Day event is free for Historic Scotland members and membership can be bought on arrival at the castle or in advance from the Membership website

Costing less than £7 a month for a family, membership enables free admission to all of Historic Scotland’s 78 paid-entry visitor attractions throughout the country, as well as free entry to a host of special on site events throughout the year.

For visitors who are not Historic Scotland members, the cost of Sunday’s event is included in the castle’s normal admission price: adult £14, concession £11.20 and child £8.20.  

Edinburgh Castle Executive Manager Nick Finnigan said: “If you’re looking for an original and special Mother’s Day treat, what better place than Scotland’s best loved heritage attraction.  Our entertaining Mary Queen of Scots performances, great catering and shopping add up to an unbeatable combination for a really memorable day out.”


  • Edinburgh Castle is one of 345 outstanding historic properties and sites throughout the country in the care of Historic Scotland. These include some of Scotland’s leading tourism attractions and most important heritage sites.  Some of the most popular, in addition to Edinburgh Castle, include Stirling, St Andrews 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.

  • For details of Historic Scotland’s exciting 2011 events programme – which features a diverse range of colourful events at historic attractions throughout the country - visit

For further information, interviews and images

Paul Spence
Historic Scotland
0131 668 8731

Ellen Drummond Ferroni
Historic Scotland
07801 820 757