The browser you are using is out of date and is no longer supported. To view and use this site correctly, please update your browser to the latest version.

We're changing

We have created a new public body, Historic Environment Scotland. While we work on shaping our future we can reassure you that all services and products will continue as normal. Please follow our progress and find out more about our new organisation.

Renaissance Palace goes on YouTube

28 July 2010

A short film about how James V’s palace at Stirling Castle is being returned to its 16th-century magnificence can now be seen on the internet.

Historic Scotland is using the web to publicise the £12 million project to refurbish the royal apartments to create a major new visitor attraction.

The film is the first in a planned series highlighting the project itself, and the work of the traditional craftsmen and women who are decorating, furnishing and fitting the palace using many of the same skills and materials as their predecessors in the early 1540s.

As well as being put on YouTube it will also be shown at events and used as part of Historic Scotland’s promotional material in the run-up to the re-opening of the palace at Easter 2011.

Peter Yeoman, Historic Scotland head of cultural resources, said: “Returning the palace to how it may have looked in the mid-16th century is a huge project and this film gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how it is being done.

“We also want people to get a first glimpse of what’s in store when it reopens next year, providing the country with an exciting new visitor attraction.

“At the same time we are celebrating the tremendous work of the traditional craftsmen and decorative artists who are helping bring this fantastic piece of Scotland’s heritage back to life.

“They are using many of the same techniques and materials as were used by the people who first furnished and decorated the royal apartments 450 years ago.

“In fact the refurbishment has given us a far better understanding than ever before of just what the challenges would have been for our Renaissance ancestors who were given the job of creating a palace fit for royalty.

“I hope that our short films will further raise people’s awareness of the palace project, and will also heighten the profile of traditional arts and crafts and underline the importance of doing what we can to keep them alive.”

The film, called Stirling Castle Palace – A Renaissance, was made by Mike Brooks of Historic Scotland’s own photographic unit, in conjunction with the Web Team and Marketing Teams, as part of the wider work to fully record each stage of the project.

It can be seen at

About the palace

  • King James V began the palace block in 1538 as a sumptuous residence for himself and his queen, Mary of Guise. Visitors will not only be able to see how the king’s and queen’s chambers may have looked in their Renaissance heyday, they will be welcomed and shown round by costumed interpreters richly dressed in authentic costumes of the era.

  • Six apartments are being furnished and decorated in authentic Renaissance style. Among the most impressive sights will be seven large hand-woven tapestries telling the tale of The Hunt of the Unicorn – and similar to ones known to have been in the Scottish royal collection. Another will be the ceiling of the King’s Inner Hall which is being redecorated with a new, hand-carved set of the Stirling Heads, which are metre-wide 16th-century oak medallions depicting kings, queens, emperors and Classical heroes. The originals will be displayed in a special gallery on the first floor.

  • The apartments are a “his and hers” set – three for the king and three for the queen. Each had an outer hall, where courtiers gathered to do business and other people waited in the hope of an audience with the king or queen. Then there were the inner halls, where those seeking favours or justice would be ushered in to meet their monarch. And finally there were the adjoining bedchambers, where the king and queen would relax, worship, and meet their closest friends and advisors – they would actually sleep in little chambers off to the side.

Other attractions at the castle

As well as refurbishing the apartments Historic Scotland is also transforming the visitor experience elsewhere in the castle. Highlights of a visit will include:

  • Costumed stewards and interpreters from the time they enter the castle

  • A gallery dedicated to Scotland and the Renaissance – where the original 16th-century Stirling Heads will be displayed

  • New exhibitions on castle life from the Wars of Independence to its days as a British Army garrison

  • Entertaining and interactive exhibits on the castle and the Renaissance world especially for children and families

  • Enhanced catering

  • New audio tours – in a variety of languages and included in the entry price.

  • An access gallery to allow those with mobility difficulties get the most from their visit.

A full media pack about the palace project and the Stirling Heads is available online at

Notes for editors:

  • For all the latest on the palace project, and everything else that happening at Stirling Castle, visit our website at and sign up for our free e-newsletter.

  • Stirling Castle is at the top of Stirling Old Town off the M9 at junction 9 or 10. Call 01786 450000

  • 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:  

  • Historic Scotland’s Mission is to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

For further information

Matthew Shelley
0131 668 8734