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An Audience with the King of Bling at the Royal Court

30 April 2009


Come to Stirling Castle on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th May to be transported back to the 16th century and the Royal Court of James IV, King of Scotland.

Experience the Renaissance pomp and pageantry of Stirling’s glittering royal court and enjoy a unique introduction to its principal characters, including the king and queen, lords, ladies-in-waiting, henchmen, heralds, and the King’s Alchemist - the fascinating and intriguing John Damian.

For centuries people believed that it was possible to turn ordinary metals into gold.  And James IV employed his very own alchemist to try to achieve this impossible feat.  But how did Damian convince the king that he had the powers to make him ‘the Golden King’ and the richest and most powerful monarch in the world?  Was Damian really a skilled scientist or no more than a charlatan?  He told the king he could fly and invented wings. (He threw himself from the castle walls to try them out and luckily landed in a midden, escaping serious injury.)  Was he a visionary with a real conviction that man would take to the skies one day – or was he simply a confidence trickster who believed he could make his fortune by fooling the king?  

Join us for our ‘King of Bling at The Royal Court’ event at Stirling Castle and make up your own mind about John Damian. You’ll hear him recount his captivating story, see him carrying out his experiments, and be able to eavesdrop on what the royal couple and their courtiers really thought of him.  

The event promises a great day out for all the family, with a packed programme of varied 16th-century themed activities and entertainment on both afternoons, from 12.30 to 3.30pm.  And everything is included in the normal admission price to the castle (adult £9, concession £7, and child £4.50).

Throughout the castle there will be a large cast of costumed performers acting out scenarios and telling stories.  There will also be a king’s banquet with real authentic food of the period, a falconer, a jester, Renaissance crafts and arts activities - and lots more.

Nick Finnigan, Historic Scotland Events and Filming Manager, said: “Our King of Bling at the Royal Court event will be a really exciting day out for all ages.  We’ve a superb host of unmissable fun attractions and entertainment for all the family, and everything is included in the normal ticket price, so it’s great value too.  

“This is a real highlight of our Stirling Castle events calendar as well as one of our main celebrations for Scotland’s Homecoming 2009, so we hope that as many people as possible will be able to come along on the 9th and 10th May to experience the delights of Stirling’s splendid Royal Court.”

Another highlight of the event will be that BBC Scotland, as part of its Scotland’s History campaign, will be at Stirling Castle’s Queen Anne Gardens on both afternoons.  BBC Scotland will be offering lots of fun ways for families to get involved with the history of Scotland, such as the opportunity to become a newsreader from the past, or star in a historical radio drama.  And ‘Raven’, the fictional character from the popular children’s TV series, will be ‘swooping in’ to challenge children to take part in the ‘Raven Challenge’.

Dawn England, Events Manager at BBC Scotland says:  "Our Scotland's History campaign launched features content across television, radio and online.  We've organised a series of events this year to support the campaign, designed to give families the chance to engage with our content in a fun and interactive way.  Stirling Castle provides the perfect backdrop for us to do this and we're very much looking forward to it."

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 the rich history of the 16th century to life 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:

  • 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.

  • BBC Scotland’s acclaimed Scotland’s History campaign is a major initiative which aims to bring to life the history that has shaped modern Scotland.  It spans TV, radio, online and events. The CBBC series, Raven, made by BBC Scotland, is multi-award winning and preparation is currently underway for the new series which will film this summer. The character of Raven is played by actor James MacKenzie.

For further information

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

Julie Whiteside
Event Publicist
BBC Scotland Press Office
0141 422 6378