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Free weekend for Historic Scotland attractions

27 November 2009


47 Historic Scotland sites throughout the country on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th November will be free. The free entry is a key part of both the St Andrew’s Weekend celebrations and the finale of Homecoming Scotland 2009.  

Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, Michael Russell said: “This is a brilliant opportunity to visit one of Historic Scotland’s superb heritage attractions.  Opening these properties for free over the 28th and 29th of November is a wonderful way for us, as Scots, to mark our country’s national day and celebrate the end of a highly successful year of Homecoming.

“We, as a nation, are terribly proud and passionate about our history, culture and what made us who we are today.  We can celebrate these amazing places and the stories of our country, this weekend.  With Historic Scotland offering membership for great value family days out all year, this is a chance to try it out in advance.

“And, in keeping with tradition, Edinburgh Castle will be opening for free on a third day, on St Andrew’s Day itself (30th), to give an opportunity to view our nation’s Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny – two significant symbols of Scotland.

“The challenge will be – how many can you fit into two days?  We know that people have seen it as a personal or family challenge in the past to see how many they can tick off.  So, calling all Castle Baggers, Neolithic Hunters and Abbey Seekers – on your marks!”

The Historic Scotland St Andrew’s Free Weekend (28th and 29th November) offer will cover a selection of leading historic attractions across the length and breadth of Scotland.

With Historic Scotland having so many attractions participating this weekend, they have set up a special ‘text for nearest’ service.  This means people can text ‘WEEKEND’ to 84118, and they will receive information on their closest free attraction and its opening times.

This comprises sites in Orkney and the Western Isles – Skara Brae and the Arnol Blackhouse; in the North and Grampian – including Corgarff Castle, Elgin Cathedral, Fort George and Urquhart Castle; in Perthshire, Kinross and Angus - including Arbroath Abbey, Edzell Castle, and Huntingtower Castle; in the Central and West region – including Castle Campbell, Doune Castle, Iona Abbey, and Stirling Castle; in Edinburgh and the Lothians – including Edinburgh Castle, Craigmillar Castle and Dirleton Castle; in the Glasgow and Clyde region – including Bothwell Castle, Dumbarton Castle, and Glasgow Cathedral; in Fife - including Dunfermline Palace and St Andrews Cathedral, in the Borders - including Melrose Abbey and Smailholm Tower, and in Dumfries and Galloway - including Caerlaverock Castle, New Abbey Corn Mill, and Sweetheart Abbey.

In addition, on St Andrew’s Day itself, Monday 30th November, there will be no charge to visit Scotland’s most popular attraction, Edinburgh Castle.  Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle will also have extra events and activities taking place – and a few surprises.

Previous Historic Scotland Free Weekends have proved immensely popular, with it becoming a ‘diary date’ for enthusiastic historic building baggers.  Last year’s St Andrew’s Free Weekend saw over 35,500 visitors attending Historic Scotland sites across the length and breadth of the country.

Image supply

Pictures of Michael Russell, Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, with a giant Free Ticket, are available.  Photographer Rob McDougall can supply images or directly from Historic Scotland.  Please contact Ellen on 07801 820757 or Rob on 07856 222 103 if you require images.

Images of Historic Scotland properties are available for free use.

Media wishing to attend

Any media wishing to attend any of the participating properties, should make contact with the Marketing and Media Team.

Notes for editors

Free admission on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th November is offered at the following Historic Scotland properties:

  • Aberdour Castle
  • Arbroath Abbey
  • Arnol Blackhouse (Saturday only)
  • Blackness Castle
  • Bothwell Castle
  • Caerlaverock Castle
  • Cardoness Castle
  • Castle Campbell
  • Corgarff Castle
  • Craigmillar Castle
  • Craignethan Castle
  • Dallas Dhu Distillery
  • Dirleton Castle
  • Doune Castle
  • Dryburgh Abbey
  • Dumbarton Castle
  • Dunblane Cathedral
  • Dunfermline Palace
  • Dundrennan Abbey
  • Dunstaffnage Castle
  • Edinburgh Castle (free entry also on Monday 30th November)
  • Edzell Castle
  • Elgin Cathedral
  • Fort George
  • Glasgow Cathedral (normally a donation-based site)
  • Huntingtower Castle
  • Huntly Castle
  • Iona Abbey
  • Jedburgh Abbey
  • Linlithgow Palace
  • Maeshowe Chambered Cairn
  • Melrose Abbey
  • New Abbey Corn Mill
  • Rothesay Castle
  • Skara Brae
  • Smailholm Tower
  • Spynie Palace
  • St Andrews Castle
  • St Andrews Cathedral
  • St Vigeans Sculptured Stones Museum
  • Stanley Mills
  • Stirling Castle
  • Sweetheart Abbey
  • Tantallon Castle
  • Tolquhon Castle
  • Trinity House
  • Urquhart Castle

Opening times for Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle are from 9.30am to 5pm. For all other properties listed above, opening times are from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

  • Text WEEKEND to 84118

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

  • Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding 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 information on all sites visit:  For details on Edinburgh Castle visit and on Stirling Castle, visit

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to have supported 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.

  • This year, in a spectacular finale to the year-long Homecoming celebrations, Scotland will present the biggest ever St Andrews “Do” from 26th - 30th November

  • St Andrew’s Day, 30 November, is Scotland’s national day.  It is a time for everyone at home and friends across the globe to celebrate Scotland and its people – our history and culture but also our diverse and vibrant contemporary society.  

  • With more than 40 exciting enhanced and new events taking place in towns and cities across Scotland during the Finale weekend – from the family focused St Andrew’s ‘Do’ in the capital and Homecoming Live in Glasgow to the Scots Traditional Music Awards in Dumfries to Ceòl Nam Fèis 2009 in Inverness - there really is something for everyone to enjoy, with many of the events in the programme free to attend.

  • The festivities are a testament to how Scotland has pulled together throughout the year to deliver a spectacular Homecoming programme with over 400 events taking place the length and breadth of the country celebrating Scotland’s contribution to the world. The Finale Celebrations and St Andrew’s Day mark the end of what has been an exceptionally celebratory year for Scotland. A year that has been a major success for Scotland, for tourism, for returning Scots Diaspora and for the economy.

  • These celebrations also herald the start of the Winter Festival season in Scotland (running from St Andrew’s Day to Burns Night) which showcase Scotland as a year-round visitor destination helping to boost revenue from tourism.

For further information

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