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Stirling Castle rated UK’s best loved historic attraction by Which? members

30 August 2012

Stirling Castle has beaten attractions such as The Tower of London, The Houses of Parliament and Hampton Court Palace to be rated the UK’s favourite heritage attraction.

The survey of Which? members rated the castle - which was home to a young Mary, Queen of Scots - as the UK’s top heritage attraction, impressing in areas such as value for money, customer service and quality of information.

The castle, which is run by Historic Scotland, re-opened its palace apartments to the public last June following a £12 million restoration of its interiors to how they may have looked in young Mary’s time.

Years of research were carried out by archaeologists, historians and other scholars to ensure that every detail – from the furniture to the heraldic decorations on the walls and ceilings – was as authentic as possible.

Key highlights include a set a replicas of the Stirling Heads – often referred to as Scotland’s other crown jewels – which adorn the ceiling of the Kings inner chamber. Many of the original surviving heads, which feature intricate carved images inspired by royalty, heraldry and mythology have been brought back together in a special exhibition.

Meanwhile, costumed performers from the court of a young Mary, Queen of Scots meet visitors to the palace as they arrive, transporting them back in time to the renaissance court of the 1540’s.

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at Historic Scotland said;

“Stirling Castle was home to the Stewart Kings and Queens, arguably the most famous dynasty in Scottish history.

“At this time Stirling Castle and its palace were the height of renaissance grandeur and knights, nobles and foreign ambassadors would flock to the royal court to revel in its opulence.

“Through the palace project we wanted to recreate this experience for visitors by creating something entirely different to anything currently available in the Scottish market.

“It’s fantastic to see the response by visitors who have visited the castle in their hundreds of thousands since the reopening of the palace and to be recognised as the UK’s favourite heritage attraction is a huge honour and testament to the hard work of all the team.”

As well as the palace project, the castle also runs events throughout the year which bring other aspects of the castle’s chequered history to life.

Stephen continues;

“We know that visitors are increasingly looking for value for money and we want to ensure that we offer as competitive a proposition as possible.

“As well as having costumed performers in the palace all year round we also offer activities at the castle for all the family. These range from special children’s activities during the October holidays to our annual Christmas programme and themed events, and Historic Scotland members can benefit from free entry to the castle which includes all of the standalone events throughout the year.

“The castle has witnessed some of most famous events in Scottish history and we want it to be somewhere that visitors return again and again to create new memories.”

Which? Report:

  • In February and March 2012, Which? members were asked for their views on the UK tourist attractions they had visited in the past two years. The survey is published in the September issue of Which? Travel

  • The customer score for historic properties is based on overall satisfaction and the likelihood to recommend. Which? give star ratings (one to five stars) to various elements of the visit, such as value for money and quality of information.

Notes to editors:

  • For all the latest on what is happening at Stirling Castle, visit our website at and sign up for our free e-newsletter.

  • 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:

  • The Year of Creative Scotland began on January 1, 2012 and will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. More information about the programme can be found at:

  • The Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL. More information and resources to help businesses engage with Year of Creative Scotland are available at

                                                         Year of Creative Scotland 2012

For further information

Iona Matheson
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8703 or 07827 956 858