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Minister sees progress on 12M Stirling Palace Project

10 August 2010

                                  Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop with a replica of one of the Stirling Heads

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop came face to face with a replica of one of the Stirling Heads as she saw the progress made on the £12m conservation and presentation project underway at Stirling Palace.

The visit comes ahead of the reopening of James V’s Royal Palace within Stirling Castle at Easter 2011.

Minister for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “This work has drawn on the skills and expertise of a large range of craftsmen and women.from Scotland and across the globe. When it opens next year we will have a major new attraction for Stirling and Scotland as a whole.

“Visitors will be able to experience what life in the Palace was like  in the mid 16th century and gain an impression of the rich decoration of the period . We expect that the extensive work, education programmes, range of events and creation of the new  gallery to display the Stirling Heads that are all included in the project  will see visitor numbers rising from 380,000 this year to 460,000 in its first year of opening.

“This is the final phase of the Stirling Castle project, it will return much of the grandeur developed during its Stuart heyday and secure Stirling Castle’s place as a leading world class visitor attraction and key attraction for Stirling for years to come.”

King James V began the palace block in 1538 as a sumptuous residence for himself and his Queen, Mary of Guise. However the Castle fell into disrepair in the 17th Century and most of the key buildings of the Stuart Court were adapted for military use.

The interiors of the Palace will include modern re-creations of some of the finest painted decoration, rich tapestries and intricate carvings associated with Scotland’s royal court.

The Minister’s tour will allow her to see:

  • the newly decorated renaissance interiors which are being painted by a Scottish based contractor who has drawn together a team of specialist decorative artists from France and Scotland to undertake this unique project.

  • The weaving of a set of seven new large hand-woven tapestries depicting the story of The Hunt of the Unicorn. The tapestries are similar to ones that are known to have been in James V’s royal collection. They are being woven in studios at Stirling Castle and West Dean by a team of weavers who have been attracted from various parts of the world to work on what is currently one of the largest tapestry commissions in Europe.

  • The carving in oak of a set of thirty eight replica Stirling Heads and other commemorative roundels that will form part of the decorative scheme of the Royal Apartments.

  • The new Gallery that will be used to display and interpret the original 16th-century Stirling Heads – regarded by some as Scotland’s other crown jewels – and the interpretation of the stone statues that adorn the exterior of the palace.

  • The Palace vaults that will contain new family focussed interpretive displays illustrating aspects of court life including tailors, musicians and jesters.


Extensive archaeological and historical research was carried out to ensure that as much as possible of the history of the Palace and the Court is incorporated into the final scheme.

Beginning in 1995, the project has included the restoration of the Chapel Royal, the medieval kitchens and most recently James IV’s Great Hall.

When the Palace opens in Easter 2011 visitors will not only be able to see how the king’s and queen’s apartments 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.

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


Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768100
lesley.brown@scotland.gsi.gov.uk