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Craigmillar Castle, haven of Mary, Queen of Scots, once again welcomes visitors

Posted: 7th September 2020
Craigmillar Castle reopens for first time since March

Craigmillar Castle has reopened to the public after it closed its doors in March due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The historic castle in Edinburgh is managed by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and was famously used by Mary, Queen of Scots as a safe haven in 1566. Ironically, its owner Sir Simon Preston, a loyal supporter of Mary, would turn her jailor just a year later, when she was taken from his townhouse in Edinburgh to be imprisoned at Lochleven Castle.

To get the castle ready to welcome visitors, some changes have been brought in to ensure visitors can safely enjoy and explore the site. This includes one-way systems in some locations and the closure of some indoor areas where physical distancing is not possible.

Visitors will be required to pre-book tickets to manage capacity on site and will be asked to wear face coverings when entering any internal spaces in line with Scottish Government guidance.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES, said: “Our historic sites are internationally renowned symbols of Scotland, and their reopening is an important milestone not only for our organisation, but for the country as a whole as we continue on our journey to recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With over 300 sites across Scotland, each of which have a unique offering we have been opening our sites on a phased basis, with 70% of our sites open by mid-September.

“We know how keen people are to access historic sites and are pleased to be able to open up Craigmillar Castle so as many people as possible can enjoy its magnificent surroundings.

“It has taken a significant amount of planning to reach this point, and I’m very proud of the efforts of all of our staff who have been instrumental in making these sites ready to safely welcome visitors once again.

“I’d also like to thank visitors for their patience throughout this period of uncertainty and offer reassurance that the safety and quality of their visitor experience has been at the forefront of our preparations.

“The tourism sector will be central to Scotland’s national recovery, and our historic attractions are a key part of that tourism offering, including secondary spend. We’re also encouraging people across Scotland to visit historic sites in their local area and rediscover the rich history on their doorstep.”

Timed visitor slots have been introduced to manage capacity, with new opening times introduced, and visitors are encouraged to check the website for opening details.

For more information about HES’ plans to reopen more sites across Scotland visit

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