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Outlander star becomes Edinburgh Castle guide

Mary, Queen of Scots

Outlander star and Ian Rankin become Edinburgh Castle ‘tour guides’

Outlander star Andrew Gower, who portrayed Bonnie Prince Charlie in the time-travel series, will voice the Young Pretender, while Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin discusses the “Black Dinner” at Edinburgh Castle and the inspiration behind Game of Thrones’ most famous episode, the “Red Wedding”.

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Stars including actors Saoirse Ronan and Bill Paterson, Rebus writer Ian Rankin and Scottish pop duo The Proclaimers have lent their voices to a new audio guide to the iconic fortress.

Four-time Oscar nominee Ronan, 25, who played Mary, Queen of Scots in the recent film of her life, will guide visitors in a section devoted to the tragic monarch, and describe what Mary might have gone through while giving birth in the King’s Birth Room.

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Others taking visitors on a brand new journey through the castle’s history include Scots Makar Jackie Kay; Ian Hamilton, who took the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey in 1950; war correspondent Orla Guerin and comedian Susan Morrison.

The guide, launched by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), is narrated by broadcasters Sally Magnusson and Eddie Mair.

Many of the celebrity cast read first-person accounts of important events and episodes from the castle’s rich history, bringing to life figures such as Bonnie Prince Charlie, Oliver Cromwell and Sir Walter Scott, whose vivid description of rediscovering the Honours in 1818 is read by Scots actor Paterson.

Others shed light on particular stories and buildings and explore its living legacy, including The Proclaimers who discuss performing on the Castle Esplanade.

They are joined by a host of specialists who work in the castle today, offering visitors an insight into the workings of the 21st century castle. They include the One o’Clock Gunner and the woman who conserves the armour.

The audio guide also includes readings of poetry, prose and biography, with some verses in Gaelic, medieval Scots and Old Welsh that go back 1400 years into the castle’s past. Two pieces of music from the 13th and 18th centuries were recorded specially for the project.

Developed by HES and produced in collaboration with Antenna International, the guide is believed to be the first of its kind to tell both historic and contemporary stories about a heritage site through such a wide range of different voices. It is available in 11 languages, with translations offered expanded to include Korean and Brazilian Portuguese.

HES chief executive Alex Paterson said: “Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s top paid-for visitor attraction, and we are committed to investing in the site and finding new and inventive ways of engaging a wide range of people with its history.

“We’re delighted that a host of talented figures – including our own staff – have been involved in this project and contributed to the ongoing legacy of the castle in such a unique way.

“This new audio guide will allow visitors to connect more closely with the living history of the castle and gain new insights into the story of Scotland’s greatest fortress.”

Tartan noir author Rankin, 59, reveals in the guide how he draws inspiration from the castle’s darker heritage for his bestselling Rebus novels.

He said: “For many people around the globe, Edinburgh Castle is Edinburgh. It is symbolic of the city’s staying power and majesty and remains a focus of local and national pride.

“I first visited as a child. Fifty years on, I still walk its slopes with a sense of awe. It is a privilege to play a small part in its modern-day story.”

Edinburgh’s Castle Rock has been a stronghold for over 3000 years. The castle itself was constructed in the 12th century and is home to the Scottish Crown Jewels, amongst the oldest regalia in Europe, and the Stone of Destiny.

The One O’Clock Gun has been fired from the ramparts almost every day since 1861 and St Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh, is one of the most romantic places to get married. It attracts around two million visitors per year.

The audio guide is available, priced £3.50 for an adult, £2.50 for concession and £1.50 for a child.