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Left, Right, Left, Right. Swing those arms!

17 November 2010

Photographic exhibition honours the role of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in the History of Stirling Castle.

             Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
              Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

From 1881 to 1964 Stirling Castle was at the heart of life for new recruits to The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Thousands of young men left their civilian identities at the drawbridge and entered the castle to undergo the basic training that would prepare them for life in one of Scotland’s most celebrated military units.

Historic Scotland and the museum have now created a temporary exhibition exploring this fascinating period which includes the Boer War, both world wars and the National Service era.

Many of the photographs have never been on public display before.

Gillian Macdonald, Stirling Castle Executive Manager, said: “The links between the castle and the Argylls are very close and go back a long way, we wanted to create an exhibition which would highlight their contribution to its history.

“Many veterans still remember coming to the castle for their basic training, and families all across Scotland and the UK had ancestors who were based here.

“This exhibition offers insights into what it was like for them – with their barracks in the Great Hall and an assault course along the castle walls.

“It takes place at an important moment, as our £12 million project to return the castle’s Renaissance royal palace to how it may have looked in the 1540s nears completion.

“Veterans will remember how the palace used to contain the canteen, library and the officers’ mess.”

The palace is the last of the castle’s major buildings to have the army fixtures and fittings stripped away so they can be returned to their original appearance.

This has been possible because the military often covered up, rather than destroyed or changed, the fabric of the buildings.

The title of the exhibition “Left, right, left, right. Swing Those Arms!” comes from recollections of 1940, by Major T R Ward, who added: “Barked at by the NCOs, we were marched under the archway of the gatehouse at the main entrance to the castle many, many times.”

Both the museum and Stirling Castle hope the exhibition will encourage people with links to the castle and the regiment to share their memories and allow them to see any old photographs they may have.

Rod MacKenzie, Deputy Curator of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum, said: "Historic Scotland in partnership with our museum has provided a great opportunity to exhibit many of the museum's photographic images which reflect the military history of Stirling Castle in the 19th and 20th centuries.

“The variety of images, from the more formal photographs to the individual snap shots, wonderfully capture the various aspects of a soldier's life in the castle.

“Hopefully these images will help visitors take a moment to think about the men and boys who have lived and trained within the walls and who have marched out of the front gate to take their place in the British Army each with their own story to tell."

As a special offer, members of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Association can have free entry to the castle for the duration of the exhibition. They simply have to show their membership card.

For all other visitors it is included in the standard ticket price for the castle. Entry to the museum is also included in the entry cost. The exhibition is in the Nether Bailey and runs from 19 November to January.

  • If you have memories of the Argylls that you would like to share then drop an email to Matthew Shelley at or to Joyce Steele at the museum at
  • Pictures are available to illustrate this story.

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 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.
  • 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 around the web:, – search for Make Your Own History, and
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For further information

Matthew Shelley
0131 668 8734