Piper's daily welcome to Edinburgh Castle
27 July 2009
As the great wooden gates of Edinburgh Castle open each morning this summer the first visitors are being welcomed across the drawbridge by a lone piper.
He is also playing Scottish tunes for the crowds throughout the morning in Hospital Square.
And at 12.45pm there is a particularly special performance as a build-up to the firing of the One O’clock Gun.
The piper, in full Highland dress, is appearing as one of a number of pilot projects being run by Historic Scotland in a bid to provide visitors with the warmest possible welcome to the castle.
Barbara Smith, Edinburgh Castle executive manager, said: “At peak times we often have people gathering on the esplanade ready for the castle to open.
“We thought it would provide a very special welcome if they were piped across the drawbridge when the gates swung open.
“So far the feedback from visitors has been excellent.
“They love hearing the sound of the pipes drifting round the castle, and they also provide a superb build-up to the firing of the One O’clock Gun, which is one of the most eagerly anticipated moments of the day.
“We are also glad to be making a small contribution to bringing traditional Scottish music to a wider audience.”
If the trial proves successful then a piper could become one of the castle’s regular attractions.
The pipers who are playing for visitors during the trial period are Roddy Deans, who sports a red Ramsay tartan, and Duncan Knight of Reel Time Events.
Roddy said: “It’s a privilege for me to be asked to play at Edinburgh Castle as that’s the place which inspired me to learn the pipes.
“When I was six my mum took me to the Tattoo and I heard the music and told her that’s what I wanted to do.
“She phoned the school, arranged for me to have lessons – and 24 years on I’m a professional piper.”
So far the public reaction has been excellent, with his arrival on the Gatehouse in the morning causing a buzz among the waiting visitors.
“It’s been great, it seems to give them a real sense of occasion when I appear up there and play them into the castle,” said Roddy.
Each day the pipers provide a two-hour programme of music – traditional and contemporary – from marches to hornpipes and jigs.
Among the visitors’ favourites are Highland Cathedral, Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave.
Roddy’s skills will soon be shared with an even wider audience as he has been selected to play the pipes, as well as providing other Scottish entertainments, on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square on 17th August.
Notes for editors
- Other initiatives include the introduction of lion and unicorn costumed characters on the castle esplanade. A traffic reduction scheme is also being piloted which reduces the number of coaches on the esplanade by half.
- Edinburgh Castle is at the top of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and has its own website at www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk/. Telephone 0131 225 9846.
- To find out more about Roddy and Reel Time Events visit www.reel-time.co.uk/corporate/index.html and www.web-blog.roddythepiper.com
- Historic Scotland membership is a great-value way to enjoy the very best of Scottish heritage for just £6.16 a month for families.
- Historic Scotland has 345 historic properties and sites in its care. 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: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/places.
- 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 the 2009 Year of Homecoming 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.