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Orkney Venus tour to start at Edinburgh Castle and kids go free

16 October 2009

MINISTER ANNOUNCES THAT KIDS GO FREE TO EXHIBITION OF NATION’S OLDEST HUMAN FIGURE

The Orkney Venus, the earliest human figure ever found in Scotland, is going on temporary display at Edinburgh Castle.  Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, Michael Russell announced that the carving will be on show for a fortnight.

Children will be given free entry to the castle for the duration of the exhibition from 19 October to 1 November. Kids are being encouraged to say the magic word when they arrive – ‘Orkney!’ to generate interest in the island.

MSP Michael Russell said: “It’s great that people will have the chance to see this remarkable historical find for themselves, and I’m particularly delighted to be able to announce that children will be able to get into Edinburgh Castle for free while the exhibition is on.”

“The castle always makes a great day out, but the exhibition will add a really special extra dimension.  We hope the tour will highlight Orkney as a visitor destination, and its wonderful archaeology, to Scots and visitors from overseas and encourage them to visit the islands and see their many attractions for themselves.”

The carving was brought to Edinburgh for vital conservation work to protect it for the future, and so experts could carry out preliminary examinations.  The exhibition will allow visitors to get a close-up view of the tiny 5,000-year-old female carving – which has the UK’s first know depiction of a person’s face.  The object, found this summer during the Historic Scotland excavation at the Links of Noltland, on the Orkney island of Westray, will then tour other venues.  The final stage will see its return to Orkney where it will go on temporary show at the Westray Heritage Centre.

MSP Michael Russell said: “It’s great that people will have the chance to see this remarkable historical find for themselves, and I’m particularly delighted to be able to announce that children will be able to get into Edinburgh Castle for free while the exhibition is on.”

“The castle always makes a great day out, but the exhibition will add a really special extra dimension.  We hope the tour will highlight Orkney as a visitor destination, and its wonderful archaeology, to Scots and visitors from overseas and encourage them to visit the islands and see their many attractions for themselves.”

“The discovery of the figurine generated worldwide interest. As more research is being carried out we wanted to let people know about the initial findings – and a touring exhibition is a great way to do that.  Just as important is that we wanted to take the opportunity to spread the word about Orkney as a fantastic place to go for anyone with an interest in archaeology.”

“Sites like the village of Skara Brae, the Neolithic chambered tomb of Maeshowe, and the many sites on some of the less-visited islands are quite remarkable and offer a fantastic insight into the lives and beliefs of the first farmers.”  The 4cm tall carving, affectionately known by locals as the Westray Wife, will be on show in the ante-room of the castle’s Laich Hall along with colourful panels giving information about how and when it was found.”

We will have images available for late Friday and weekend press – from 10am on Friday 16th October.  

FOR IMAGES:  paul.spence@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Notes for editors


  • The kids go free offer allows six children to visit the castle per paying adult for the duration of the exhibition. It is not available in conjunction with any other offer. To claim free entry the party must say they have come to see the Orkney Venus exhibition.
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  • Other tour locations and dates are to be announced later.

  • 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: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/places

  • 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
rebecca.hamilton@scotland.gsi.gov.uk