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Dressing up and fooling around

19 November 2010

Costumed storytellers shed light on 16th century courtly life

An obsession with fashion is no modern phenomena. In the 16th century, it was as important for as many people as it is today.  Then, as now, being seen in the latest styles was a preoccupation for people of both sexes and all ages. And an appearance at court meant dressing to impress was an absolute must.
Meet one of the ladies of the court of James V at Stirling Castle this weekend to hear her views on the fashions of the age as she is fitted for a new outfit.  And find out about the lengthy preparations involved in getting her ready to meet the Queen.  Dressing Up for the Queen, featuring performances by costumed interpreters between 11am & 3pm on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st November (included in the normal price of admission to the castle), provides a fascinating insight into the costume, make-up and personal care of the period.

The following weekend, there’s an opportunity to meet another Renaissance court character – the ever-popular jester.  On Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th visitors will be entertained by this madcap fool whose job it was to bring levity to the proceedings by entertaining royalty and nobles.  They’ll learn all about his repertoire including toppling precariously on stilts, fire eating, and balancing upside down on anyone he can trick into lying on the floor.  

The 16th Century Jester performances are between 11am and 3pm and entry is free as there will be no admission charges that weekend at Stirling Castle.  Historic Scotland is waiving admission to the attraction - and to 47 other leading heritage properties all over the country – on Saturday 27th, Sunday 28th, , Monday 29th and St Andrew’s Day itself, Tuesday 30th November – in honour of Scotland’s national day.

Next month’s costumed performances at Stirling – on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th December - have a suitably festive theme.  Christmas For The Queen offers a taste of the seasonal celebrations of 1546.  Visitors will be able to see period food being prepared, find out about the favourite festive dishes of the 16th century and how they have influenced those we still enjoy today.  To add to the festive mood there will also be a chance to indulge in the games and dancing that Mary, Queen of Scots would have enjoyed as a child.  And those charged with her safety, her personal armed guards, will be providing a demonstration of arms.  
Christmas For The Queen runs from 10.30am to 4pm on the 18th and 19th.

Gareth Cheeseman of Historic Scotland’s Interpretation Unit said: “Our performances by costumed interpreters are always very popular, and as well as being really enjoyable, they help visitors relate to the people of the past and to understand and appreciate all sorts of aspects of life many centuries ago.  

“Storytelling adds an extra dimension to any visit to a historic attraction, making it even more memorable. And of course, Stirling Castle is a superb setting for our forthcoming free events – it has great significance as a Renaissance royal residence, so is the ideal place to bring the 16th century court to life.”


Stirling Castle’s Christmas events programme includes:

  • Christmas Shopping Fayre : 1st December, from 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Unique gift ideas from a range of national and local retailers including Hamley’s Toys. The evening in the Great Hall features cooking demonstrations by the castle’s award-winning caterers, benugo, and local truffle company Fiona’s Fayre. And meet the team behind ‘The Broons’ and characters from the MacRobert panto. Tickets cost £5 for adults (includes entry, parking and a tea/coffee); free for children under 16. Tickets can be purchased at the Ticket Centre at the castle or by calling 01786 431 310.

  • 'The Story of Christmas' :  5th & 12th December , from 12.30 to 3.30pm,  this family event features entertaining and amusing presentations highlighting how yuletide celebrations have evolved from their earliest origins through the centuries. Included in the cost of admission to Stirling Castle  (current season prices are Adult £9.00, Child £5.40, Concession £7.20, Historic Scotland members free).  Admission tickets can be bought online through

  • Christmas Lunches : 11th – 23rd December, from 1pm each day, this special three-course festive meal following by mince pies and coffee is £29 per person, including entry to the castle.  To book, call 01786 449 208 or email

  • Carols at the Castle : 19th December from 7pm to 8.30pm. Tickets are £12 (£9 concessions/HS members) from the Albert Halls or by calling 01786 473544.

Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s grandest castles due to its imposing position and impressive architecture. From the castle’s ramparts, visitors can take in views over two of Scotland’s most important battle sites – Stirling Bridge (1297) and Bannockburn (1314). The castle is at the head of Stirling’s historic old town, off M9 junction 9 or 10. Tel: 01786 450000. For further information on the castle, visit

Major conservation work has been carried out at Stirling Castle over many years to preserve the attraction as a major national and international monument. An ambitious £12 million scheme, the Stirling Castle Palace Project, is currently underway to restore and refurbish the Royal Palace at Stirling and present the Royal Lodgings as they might have appeared in the heyday of Scotland’s Stewart court in the mid 16th century. The project is due for completion in Spring 2011. An interpretive display on the court of James V will be created in the palace vaults and a Renaissance Gallery on the upper floors of the palace will house the original Stirling Heads, a rare group of intricately carved oak ceiling medallions depicting kings,queens, courtiers and mythological creatures.  Costumed interpreters will bring to life the history of the 16th century to enrich visitors’ enjoyment.

Stirling Castle is one of the most popular of 345 outstanding heritage properties and sites in the care of Historic Scotland.  Ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles and cathedrals, these include some of Scotland’s leading tourism attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, Skara Brae, and the Border Abbeys.  For further details on Historic Scotland’s sites visit:

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

For further information, interviews and images

Ellen Drummond Ferroni
0131 668 8734 / 07801 820757