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Education awards for Scottish castles

17 November 2006

Jacobite soldiers, knights in armour and an axe-wielding executioner can form a pretty persuasive crowd.  And they certainly impressed the judges of the annual Sandford Awards for Heritage Education. Historic Scotland is delighted that the Heritage Education Trust has decided to include Edinburgh and Stirling castles among this year’s winners.

The awards are an independently evaluated mark of excellence for heritage education. Historic Scotland offers a broad and imaginative range of educational activities. Some are led by costumed performers and others by our education officers who create tailor-made tours designed to fit the needs of each class.  The judges highly praised our officers for how well they used the features of the castles – like art, architecture and heraldry – to bring the past to life.

Sue Mitchell, Historic Scotland Education Manager, said: "I am delighted that Edinburgh and Stirling castles have been recognised as offering some of the very best heritage education in the UK.  Young people get a huge amount from the educational activities at our castles, abbeys, cathedrals and many other sites – all of which are rich with history.

The judges were especially impressed by the work of our education officers at the castles who create tailor made tours to suit what each class is studying. So if it’s Mary Queen of Scots, they take them to the places she would have known, show them the sights she would have seen, and tell stories of her life and times.

The enthusiastic feedback we get from pupils and teachers alike underlines the fact that our educational activities fire their imaginations and live on their memories for many years afterwards.’

The 2006 awards are due to be made at Edinburgh Castle on 20 November 2006. Other winners include the Tower of London, Tatton Park, Goodwood Estate and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Gallery.

It is the first time Historic Scotland has received Sandford Awards. The educational opportunities the castles provide are many and varied. Examples from the 2006 - 2007 Schools’ Programme include An Audience with the Queen, where classes are transformed into young nobles helping Mary, Queen of Scots prepare lavish celebrations following the birth of her son and heir.  Higher art and design students also find the castles inspirational places to build up their portfolios. Knight School is another favourite, where youngsters learn the values of chivalry from a knight in armour and even do some jousting. Lady Kirsten also provides lessons in 16th century courtly dancing, complete with the chance to dress in period costume.  And then there are characters like The Doomster – or executioner – and Jacobite soldiers who introduce classes to all manner of tales of the past.

All Historic Scotland’s educational activities are designed to support school curricula in a way that is lively, accessible and maximises the potential of the country’s fabulous heritage.

Notes for editors
  • The Education Officer at Edinburgh Castle is Craig Fletcher and his counterpart at Stirling is Kirsten Wood.

  • To find out more about the Heritage Education Trust visit its website at www.heritageeducationtrust.org.uk/het_ssi/awards.shtml

For further information


Kate Turnbull
PR Executive
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8959
kate.turnbull@scotland.gsi.gov.uk