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Lion And Unicorn At Edinburgh Castle

2 July 2009

New costumed characters will welcome visitors

Two of the great symbols of Scottish royalty are about to come to life on Edinburgh Castle esplanade.  Costumed characters are being introduced to portray the lion rampant and the unicorn, two of the magnificent beasts which appear on the coats of arms and heraldic shields in the castle.

They have been created as part of ongoing development to enhance the experience of visitors as they arrive at Scotland’s premier paid-for visitor attraction.

The characters are being introduced for a trial period from Monday, 6 July and could become a permanent feature on Edinburgh Castle esplanade.

Barbara Smith, Executive Manager of Edinburgh Castle, said: “The esplanade is a wonderful space and we have been working to make it a real part of the welcome to Edinburgh Castle.  This project aims to  introduce the lion and unicorn characters, which we believe will be especially appealing to families and our younger visitors.  They will have a particular story telling role in terms of what the Lion and the Unicorn mean to Edinburgh Castle and where visitors can see and consider these heraldic symbols throughout a visit.      

“They will also be actively promoting the daily events programme of what we have going on inside the castle walls and telling people about the fantastic highlights that you can find when you visit Edinburgh Castle – such as seeing the Scottish Crown Jewels.  Also, they can tell people about current offers and promotions – such as our current 18 months for 12 on membership.”

The characters are also likely to take their role in visitors photographs, providing a memento of a visit.  The lion and unicorn motifs are represented in coats of arms around the castle and are closely linked to its heritage.  The Edinburgh Castle brand is partly based on the Scottish Lion Rampant – which also provides the confident red colour of the official logo.  The costumes have been carefully designed to ensure the characters are friendly and approachable, particularly for the younger visitors.

Other parts of the Edinburgh Castle Visitor Reception Project, have included moving the old portable ticket office from the esplanade and replacing it with an attractive and modern visitor reception area within the walls.  A traffic reduction scheme is to be trialled between Monday 6 July to Sunday 23 July inclusive, during which coaches will drop passengers on the esplanade and pick them up on Johnston Terrace.

A dedicated Edinburgh Castle website and online booking system have also been introduced, as well as new uniforms for staff.  And a trial scheme is taking place that will allow tour guides to pick up tickets at the bottom of the esplanade, saving them 10-15 minutes, and meaning their parties can enter the castle with no delays.

Pictures Available

We have pictures available of the costumed characters, from Historic Scotland marketing and media team or from Rob McDougall directly.

Historic Scotland                                   Rob McDougall

Marketing and Media                              Freelance Photographer

T: 0131 668 8685                                   M: 07856 222 103

M: 07771 868 402


Notes for editors:

  • The characters will in effect be acting as heralds - ‘messengers and makers of proclamations’ on the esplanade.

  • Heraldry is all about individual identification, particularly in a world before photography. For places, families, individuals and institutions it was the way of creating an individual marque. The art of heraldry had strong visual power.  Heraldic characters were larger than life, caricatured, sometimes real, sometimes fanciful.  Humour and wit were frequently used in creating heraldry.

  • Historic Scotland is currently offering six months free on their family membership when you buy 12 months.  Families will pay just £6.16 a month to get free access to more than 70 properties across Scotland.

  • 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.

  • 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.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871