Auld Lang Syne at Stirling
28 July 2009
With August fast approaching, time is quickly running out to book a ticket for one of three exclusive evening tours celebrating Robert Burns’ links with Stirling Castle.
The special events take place on Fridays the 7th, 14th and 21st of August, and start at 6.30pm in the historic property’s Guardroom Square. Visitors (a maximum of 60 for each tour) will be taken round many parts of the castle, including the outer defences, the Great Kitchen and the Great Hall. They will then enjoy a fine, traditional Scottish dinner in the Unicorn Café, with the three-course menu featuring haggis, neeps and tatties. Tickets cost £25 and must be purchased in advance, either by telephoning 01786 431 312 or from the castle’s gift shop. (Visitors taking part in the tours are recommended to wear outdoor clothing and appropriate footwear.)
The August scheduling of Robert Burns and Stirling Castle: An Exclusive Homecoming Evening Tour - coincides with the anniversary of Burns’ 1787 visit to Stirling Castle. He and his travelling companion Willie Nicol first visited on the evening of 26th August of that year, and during their stay dined with a party of local men including the rector of Stirling Grammar school and Lieutenant Forrester from Stirling Castle’s garrison.
Following his visit, Burns wrote the ‘Stirling lines’ lamenting the passing of the Royal Stewarts. He actually scratched these onto the window of Wingate’s Inn where he was staying (now known as the Golden Lion, just down from the castle). Critical of the Hanoverian monarchy, the ‘Stirling lines’ caused some controversy for Burns and when he returned to Stirling in October 1787, he smashed the inscribed window. The lines had, however, already been copied and circulated quickly.
The ‘Stirling lines’ also lamented Stirling Castle’s state of disrepair during Burns’ visit - when it was a military garrison and some parts had been allowed to become run-down. Since that time, of course, a programme of major refurbishments has been undertaken by Historic Scotland. The latest is a £12 million project currently underway to return the royal palace to how it may have looked when first built in the mid-16th century.
The forthcoming exclusive Burns events will be lead by Ross Blevins, head steward at Stirling Castle. Ross said: “The 2009 Year of Homecoming, which celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, is an ideal time to mark the poet’s links to Stirling, its castle and surrounding countryside, and the influence these had on his literary work. Our three evening tours provide an opportunity to look back on these whilst enjoying the special atmosphere of the castle after it is normally closed to visitors.”
For further information, images and interviews please contact Rebecca Hamilton at the details below.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s grandest castles due to its imposing position and impressive architecture. From the castle’s ramparts, visitors can take in views over two of Scotland’s most important battle sites – Stirling Bridge (1297) and Bannockburn (1314). The castle is at the head of Stirling’s historic old town, off M9 junction 9 or 10. Tel: 01786 450000. Admission: Adult £9.00; Child £4.50; Concessions £7.00 (includes admission to Argyll’s Lodging).
- Major conservation work has been carried out at Stirling Castle over many years to preserve the attraction as a major national and international monument. An ambitious £12 million scheme, the Stirling Castle Palace Project, is currently underway to restore and refurbish the Royal Palace at Stirling and present the Royal Lodgings as they might have appeared in the heyday of Scotland’s Stewart court in the mid 16th century. An interpretive display on the court of James V will be created in the palace vaults and a Renaissance Gallery on the upper floors of the palace will house the original Stirling Heads, a rare group of intricately carved oak ceiling medallions depicting kings,queens, courtiers and mythological creatures. Costumed interpreters will bring to life the history of the 16th century to enrich visitors’ enjoyment.
- Stirling Castle is one of over 345 outstanding heritage properties and sites in the care of Historic Scotland. Ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings, these include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country. Among the most popular are Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Skara Brae, and the Border Abbeys. 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.