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Only a stone's throw away!

27 November 2006

As Scots all over the world stock up on whisky, dust down their kilts and practise some ceilidh moves in preparation for St Andrew’s Day on 30 November, Scotland’s most popular, iconic attraction Edinburgh Castle is making some exciting preparations of its very own.

To mark this special day, Historic Scotland will be allowing free entry to Edinburgh Castle as well as St Andrew’s Castle and Cathedral in Fife on 30 November only, encouraging people to find out more about Scotland, Scottish history and its importance.

As well as celebrating Scotland’s national day, this year marks the tenth anniversary of the momentous return of the Stone of Destiny to Scotland and indeed Edinburgh Castle. More specific details regarding the celebrations at Edinburgh Castle will be released later in the week, but Historic Scotland can reveal it has commissioned the making of an exact replica Stone of Destiny cake.

Created by Scottish company Truly Scrumptious Designer Cakes Ltd, the specifications will match that of the actual stone, and even though it will involve baking 24 sponges to get the size, it is hoped it will not be quite as heavy to carry!

Other celebrations will include a special launch of blue and white balloons from Edinburgh Castle and free Saltire face-paintings for everyone who visits on St Andrew’s Day.

Rebecca Hamilton, Marketing and Media Manager at Historic Scotland said, "We are looking forward to welcoming people to Edinburgh Castle on St Andrew’s Day and we hope the free admission will be an extra motivation to come along and find out a bit more about Scotland’s great historic past.

The Stone of Destiny has a fascinating story to tell, and it was a great honour to have it returned to Scotland, and indeed Edinburgh Castle ten years ago this month.

There will be a lot happening on the day itself, creating a real patriotic buzz within the Castle walls.  We hope many will get into the spirit of things, even if they are at work and want to pop along on their lunch break – everybody’s welcome!"

After a 700 year absence, on 30 November 1996, the Stone of Destiny, an important symbol of Scotland returned to its rightful homeland, brought to Edinburgh Castle and accepted by Michael Forsyth, the then Secretary of State of Scotland, receiving it from the Queen’s representative, HRH Prince Andrew. It now lies, along with the Scottish Crown Jewels for visitors to see in the Crown room at the Castle, only to be moved again to Westminster Abbey for future coronation ceremonies.

Edinburgh Castle will be open from 9.30am to 5.00pm on St Andrew’s Day, and admission will be free for all visitors. More details regarding events lined up for the day and the run up to the event, will be released later in the week.

Notes for editors
  • Saint Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland and St Andrew’s Day is recognised and celebrated by Scots around the world on 30 November.  The flag of Scotland in blue and white is the Cross of St Andrew (the Saltire).

  • A majestic landmark which dominates the capital city's skyline just as it has dominated Scotland's long and colourful history Edinburgh Castle is the best known and most visited of our historic buildings.  Perched on an extinct volcano and offering stunning views, this instantly recognisable fortress is a powerful national symbol, and part of Edinburgh's World Heritage site.

  • The Stone of Destiny is one of the most important Scottish icons.  The Stone, which was formally returned to Scotland on 30 November 1996 is that taken from the abbey of Scone by King Edward I of England in 1296, and is the stone on which Scottish kings had been inaugurated for centuries (accounts exist of the inauguration of Alexander III in 1249 and John Balliol in 1292 and by that time, kings had been inaugurated at Scone for at least four centuries).

  • Legend has it that the Stone was brought to Scotland by the descendents of Scota, daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt, by way of Spain and Ireland, and transferred from an early Scots site on the west of Scotland to Scone by Kenneth MacAlpin, the king who traditionally combined the kingdoms of Pict and the Scots in about 843.  Whether this is true or not is unclear, however the Stone is sandstone of a type found in the Perthshire area.  It seems likely, therefore, that the stone was a Pictish royal stone adopted by the Scots when they amalgamated the two kingdoms to create Alba, centuries later becoming a British royal symbol after the union of the crowns.

  • For over 400 years perhaps, Kings of Scots were inaugurated by sitting on the Stone of Scone.  For nearly 700 years, Kings of England and later Kings of Great Britain and Ireland were crowned on the Stone in Westminster Abbey.  Now the Stone rests again in Scotland, in the Crown Room at Edinburgh Castle, built by James VI of Scotland and I of England, the King who united the two countries in 1603.

  • The Castle is just one of 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in the care of Historic Scotland. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae.

For further information

Kate Turnbull
PR Executive
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8959