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Saving the Pennies with Historic Scotland

26 March 2008

Historic Scotland’s Free Weekend is Back

Historic Scotland announce the dates for their ever-popular Free Weekend as it returns for another year. For one weekend only, on 12 and 13 April 2008, the doors, drawbridges, hatches, portcullises and gates on over 70 attractions will open to the public for free, as Historic Scotland encourages visitors to discover more about the nation’s fascinating past.

Scotland’s rich built heritage spans the length and breadth of the country: there are 345 properties in the care of Historic Scotland spanning over 5,000 years of Scotland’s history and culture. These range from castles and cathedrals to pre-historic villages and palaces; such as the iconic Edinburgh Castle, one of Scotland’s most beautiful medieval buildings Elgin Cathedral, the remarkable Neolithic settlement at Skara Brae and the spectacular Dunfermline Palace.

The Historic Scotland Free Weekend has successfully been running for over a decade with over 600,000 people taking the opportunity to visit some of the most significant historic sites in the world without having to pay a penny. In 2007 Edinburgh Castle was the most popular monument over the Free Weekend, welcoming over 25,000 people over the two days and further cementing its position as Historic Scotland’s most visited attraction.

Peter Bromley, Director of Properties in Care for Historic Scotland, said:

“Our teams are looking forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to our attractions on the 12 and 13 April. It’s a fantastic opportunity for people to gain an insight into the incredible history of the nation and have a great day out with family and friends. We hope that visitors will be inspired to return to other Historic Scotland properties.

“Visitors will have the opportunity to sign-up for annual membership for Historic Scotland at the Free Weekend, with a special offer of three months free. What better incentive to experience Historic Scotland’s varied attractions.”

Linda Fabiani, MSP, Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture, said:

“The Free Weekend is an important date in the cultural calendar. It means everyone can experience Scotland’s wonderful built heritage for free. It’s a fantastic opportunity for people in Scotland to embrace their history, with attractions they may not have visited before. I would encourage everyone to take the time to visit somewhere new that will spark their imagination about the nation’s remarkable past.”

Historic Scotland has also set up a special text locator service: by texting OUR HISTORY to 84118 people can find their nearest Historic Scotland attraction included in the Free Weekend.

Notes for editors
·A full list of properties involved in the Historic Scotland Free Weekend on 12 and 13 April is available at Please note that the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Holyrood Abbey and Duff House, Banff are not included in the Free Weekend.

·Opening times over the Free Weekend are 09.30 to 17.30 (last admission 17.00) unless otherwise stated. Some of the smaller properties may close over lunchtime.

·All children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

·The Free Weekend is a very popular annual event so visitors should be aware that if an attraction is very busy at peak times, queuing or returning at a less busy time may be required. Edinburgh and Stirling castles are expected to be extremely busy with the possibility of queues at peak times.

·As part of the initiative, visitors signing up for an annual membership for Historic Scotland during the Free Weekend will receive three months free (15 months membership for the price of 12) if paying by Direct Debit. This offer is only available at Historic Scotland properties. Membership gives free entry to Historic Scotland all year round, a 20% discount in Historic Scotland retail outlets and free entry to an extensive range of Historic Scotland day events.

·Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding properties in its care, including some of the country’s leading visitor attractions: Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace and Skara Brae. Seventy-seven of these visitor attractions are admission based and 268 are free entry. Visitor numbers can only be monitored at staffed sites.

Properties included in the Free Weekend

Caerlaverock Castle
Cardoness Castle
Dundrennan Abbey
Glenluce Abbey
MacLellan’s Castle
New Abbey Corn Mill
Sweetheart Abbey
Threave Castle
Whithorn Priory – open 10.30 to 17.00

Dryburgh Abbey
Hermitage Castle
Jedburgh Abbey
Melrose Abbey (please note this does not include Cloister House)
Smailholm Tower
Blackness Castle
Cairnpapple Hill
Craigmillar Castle
Crichton Castle
Dirleton Castle and Gardens
Edinburgh Castle – open 09.30 to 18.00; last admission 17.15
Linlithgow Palace – last admission 16.45
On Saturday 12 April some parts of the Palace will have restricted access between 11.00 to 13.30 due to a wedding taking place. There will be no car parking at the Palace on that day. To fully enjoy exploring the Palace, visitors are advised to come on Sunday 13 April instead
Seton Collegiate Church
Tantallon Castle
Torphichen Preceptory – open 13.00 to 17.00
Trinity House, Leith – open 12.00 noon to 16.00; last admission 15.30

Bothwell Castle
Craignethan Castle
Crossraguel Abbey
Dumbarton Castle – last admission 16.45
Dundonald Castle – open 10.00 to 17.00
Glasgow Cathedral – open Saturday 09.30 to 17.00; Sunday 13.00 to 17.00
Newark Castle
Rothesay Castle
Argyll’s Lodging
Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace
Castle Campbell and Garden
Doune Castle
Dunblane Cathedral – open Saturday 09.30 to 17.30; Sunday 14.00 to 17.30
Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel
Inchmahome Priory – last ferry sailing 16.30
Iona Abbey
Kinneil House – open 12.00 noon to 16.00 numbers permitted indoors are limited at any one time
Stirling Castle – open 09.30 to 18.00; last admission 17.15

Aberdour Castle and Gardens
Dunfermline Abbey and Palace
Inchcolm Abbey – charge for ferry crossing
St Andrews Castle and Cathedral
Arbroath Abbey
Edzell Castle and Garden
Elcho Castle
Huntingtower Castle
Lochleven Castle – last ferry sailing 16.30
Meigle Sculptured Stone Museum
St Serf’s Church, Dunning
Stanley Mills
Balvenie Castle
Corgarff Castle
Dallas Dhu Distillery
Elgin Cathedral
Fort George – last admission 16.45
Huntly Castle
Kildrummy Castle
Kinnaird Head Castle Lighthouse and Museum
Spynie Palace
Tolquhon Castle
Urquhart Castle – open 09.30 to 18.00; last admission 17.15

The Blackhouse, Arnol – open Saturday only
Calanais Standing Stones and Visitor Centre – visitor centre open Saturday only
Kisimul Castle, Barra
Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces
Broch of Gurness
Hackness Battery
Skara Brae and Skaill House

Jarlshof prehistoric and Norse settlement

For further information

Laura Adamson
PR Executive
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8959 or 07769 630 763