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Junior Guides graduate from Bishops Palace and Earls Palace

25 June 2010

New partnership scheme launched at Orkney attractions

Pupils from Glaitness Primary stepped back in time on Thursday (24th June) as they took on their new roles as junior guides at The Bishop’s Palace and Earl’s Palace.

The pupils are taking part in the scheme in partnership with Historic Scotland, which will see them taking tours for other visiting school groups from next term. As part of this the children will be wearing period costume to recreate the lives of some of the most famous characters who lived on or are connected to the site including St Magnus, Bishop Reid and Earl Patrick Stewart.
Inaugural tours took place on Thursday evening before a graduation ceremony for the pupils in the Palace’s Great Hall which was attended by the children’s families and members of the local community.

Alan Bichan, Class Teacher at Glaitness Primary said;

“The children are extremely excited to take part in the scheme and have been working very hard to get everything ready for the first tours.

“It’s a great way to get them involved in their local heritage, and help bring it to life for visiting schools.

“As part of the programme, we’ve focussed not only on the more famous people who are connected with the sites but also on their households –to look at the wider social context and the role of these sites within the wider community. Visitors therefore can expect to meet a whole host of characters from the Earl himself through to his loyal steward and formidable cook!”

The scheme is an established part of Historic Scotland’s national schools programme which provides young people with an exciting opportunity to become actively involved with their local historic site and also supports schools in delivering the Curriculum for Excellence.

Participating sites across Scotland include Linlithgow Palace, Stanley Mills and Iona Abbey however it is the first time that it has run on Orkney.  

Ann Marwick, District Visitor Services Manager for Historic Scotland said;  

“We want children to be passionate about their local history – and have found that the Junior Guides programme is a great way for them to engage with and empathise with the past as well as helping to develop confidence and transferable life skills.

“The Earl’s Palace and Bishop’s Palace have played an important role in the island’s past, so they are a fantastic location to tell the stories of some of the island’s most colourful characters.

“The school have been a pleasure to work with and we look forward to welcoming them on site next term.”

For information

  • The junior guides programme has been running for a number of years at a variety of Historic Scotland properties including Linlithgow Palace, Claypotts Castle, Doune Castle, Craigmillar Castle, Stanley Mills, Iona Abbey and Arnol Blackhouse, where tours are offered in both English and Gaelic.

  • Closely linked to many aspects of the Curriculum for Excellence it is designed to increase pupil’s understanding and appreciation of their local heritage, as well as helping them to build confidence and develop transferable life skills.

  • Primary schools wishing to arrange a free tour of the sites can contact Emily Velzian on 01856 871 918. Full details about Historic Scotland’s schools programme and free educational resources can be found at

Notes for Editors                                                                      

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

For further information

Iona Matheson
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8703 or 07827 956 858