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Costumes from A Satire of the Three Estates production go on display

6 June 2014

An exhibition of elaborate costumes from a production of Sir David Lyndsay’s 16th century play A Satire of the Three Estates will open at Stirling Castle tomorrow (Saturday 7th June).

The play is a bawdy, irreverent satire of church and state, national identity, and public and private morality. It was first performed - albeit in a much shorter version - in Linlithgow in 1540, before being extended in the 1550s. It has inspired modern Scottish theatre, in June last year it was performed in its entirety for the first time since 1554.

Directed by Gregory Thompson and staged first at Linlithgow Palace then at Stirling Castle, the 2013 production was part of a major research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project was delivered by a partnership  between the University of Edinburgh, the University of Brunel and Historic Scotland.

A Year of Homecoming 2014 event, the exhibition forms part of the project’s legacy which includes research into the cultural significances of the play, combining performance, film, literary and historical analysis, archaeology, art history and architectural studies.

It features ten costumes from the production, representing allegorical characters including Rex Humanitus (King Humanity), Good Counsel, Lady Sensuality and Lady Chastity. Running until 28 September, visitors will have the opportunity to admire the craftsmanship in the costumes, learn more about the significance of the play itself and the innovative project which brought it back to life.

The 2013 production of A Satire of the Three Estates brought together some of Scotland’s finest stage actors, including Tam Dean Burn, Jimmy Chisholm and Alison Peebles, and has been nominated for a prestigious Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) award in the ‘best ensemble’ category. The winners of the CATS will be announced in a ceremony at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow on 8 June.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said: “A Satire of the Three Estates is one of Scotland’s finest and most enduring plays, and last year’s ambitious project saw it being brought to life for a new audience. The play examines Scottish society and national identity in the 16th century, and many of its themes remain relevant today. I am delighted that this production’s legacy is so extensive and that visitors to Stirling Castle this summer will have the opportunity to see some of the beautiful costumes used in the performances up close.”

The Three Estates Costumes will be at Stirling Castle from 7 June – 28 September. Admission is included in entry to the castle. For more information visit

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • Scotland welcomes the world in the Year of Homecoming 2014 providing a year-long programme of events alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games. The Year of Homecoming Scotland will run until 31 December 2014 throughout the length and breadth of the country. Visitors from around the world are invited to join in a celebration of the nation’s food and drink, active pursuits, cultural heritage, nature and ancestral heritage. Homecoming Scotland 2014 is a Scottish Government initiative being led by EventScotland and VisitScotland, supported by numerous partners. To find out more visit For more on Historic Scotland’s Homecoming activities visit or tweet us using #hshomecoming.

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For further information

Alice Wyllie
Historic Scotland Media Office
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768 096