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Mary Queen of Scots pippins

Mary Queen of Scots

In the days of bodices and doublets the upper classes could use dolls to get an idea of how a particular outfit would look at life size. They’re the only known evidence for the use of “pippins” (from the French poupée) in Renaissance Scotland, and were used by the European glitterati in the 16th and 17th century as a way of keeping up with the latest trends. Research undertaken by Dr Michael Pearce on behalf of Historic Environment Scotland shows that after the battle of Carberry (which led inexorably to her downfall) “pippens, fantasies, and feathers” belonging to Mary Queen of Scots were packed away and locked up in Edinburgh Castle. Dr Pearce comments: “The inventory also reveals how Mary dressed these pippins in the best silks to fashion her European court, as it records a payment in 1563 to Jacques, her tailor, to make grey and silver clothes for a set of dolls. “Much more useful than diplomatic accounts or portraits, these dolls’ outfits would have been exquisitely crafted to display the latest trends in materials, accessories and dress styles. Hello Dollies … Stuart era fashionistas used these 16th century Barbies as guides to the latest style “The miniature versions could then be exchanged and replicated by tailors elsewhere”. Rachel Pickering, Senior Cultural Resources Advisor at HES, said: “While fashion dolls such as these became common in the 17th century, evidence for their earlier use is poorly documented – making this new interpretation of Mary’s inventories so significant. “There is evidence of use of these dolls in 16th century France, with records showing Francois I requested a set from Isabella d’Este, one of the leading women of the Italian Renaissance, for the women of his court. “Mary Queen of Scots was raised at the court of Francois’ son Henry II, and his wife, Catherine de Medici also had a set of dolls among her personal belongings”.

Visit the key locations in the life of Mary Queen of Scots on our private tours. Phone 07305-294773 for more details

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The Outlander love story boosts visitor numbers

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan star in Outlander, which has given historic sites in Scotland a huge boost in visitor numbers
Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan star in Outlander, which has given historic sites in Scotland a huge boost in visitor numbers

Fans of the hit television series Outlander helped to push tourist numbers at Scotland’s historic castles past the five million mark for the first time last year. Our Outlander set locations tour features visits to Doune Castle , Blackness Castle and Linlithgow palace

doune castle, outlander tours

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said that people had come from across the world to see sites associated with the time-travel fantasy starring Sam Heughan and Caitriona BalfeSam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. It said that the “Outlander effect” had led to a 27 per cent increase in tourists from the US and a 19 per cent increase in those coming from France compared with the previous year.

Visitor numbers to Doune Castle, the location for the fictional Castle Leoch, are up by 227 per cent since 2013, when Outlander was first screened. The 15th-century Blackness Castle in West Lothian, the setting for the Tv series has seen a huge rise in visitor numbers .

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at HES, said: “Our record breaking visitor figures, including across all of our top ten sites, are a tremendous achievement for Scotland’s heritage tourism sector, reflecting the continued interest shown by tourists and home-grown visitors to learn more about our rich Scottish heritage.

“The exchange rate, as well as strong airport numbers, have both contributed to the growing figures.

“This rise in visitor numbers at our staffed sites has also been complemented by visitor growth at our unstaffed free access properties, bringing the overall total to an estimated 12 million.”

The top 10 most-visited HES attractions all individually celebrated record-breaking years, with over 2 million people passing over Edinburgh Castle’s drawbridge, an increase of nearly 300,000 visitors in comparison to the previous year.

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Bespoke private tours – design your own tour

Alongside our normal choice of tours , Private Tours Edinburgh also offers bespoke private tours and one day Outlander tours customised to the requirements of each customer . Phone 07305-294773 or contact us online .

You can set your own itinerary and decide exactly where you want to visit . Customers interested should contact us online for a quote

Tours normally start at 10 am .

Normal pickup point is Edinburgh or Glasgow city centre or the airport .

Your tour can feature a visit to

  • Outlander film locations
  •  the Kelpies
  •  the Falkirk Wheel
  • Stirling Castle
  • other visitor attractions / film locations

Stirling Castle is one of the top tourist attractions in central Scotland . The castle features the Royal Palace , the Great Hall and the castle.

Stirling Castle has been named Scotland’s best visitor attraction at the inaugural 2016 Scottish and Outdoor Leisure Awards. The castle, which attracts about 460,000 visitors per year, beat competitors including Edinburgh Zoo and Dynamic Earth.
If you go into the Great Hall in the castle you can take a seat at the top table and picture yourself as the King or Queen of Scotland .

‘ So let us pass … to the ports of Sterling ; where stands a beautiful and embellished Castle, elevated on the precipice of an impregnable rock , that commands the vallies ( as well as the town ) and all those habitable parts about it … ‘- Richard Franck , Northern Memoirs , 1656

Stirling Castle is built on the volcanic rock high above the town. From the castle you can see Stirling Bridge and the Wallace Monument.

Bespoke tour prices begin at £250 per day for one person to £350 for four people.

  • Exclusive private tours for up to four people
  • Bespoke itinerary based on your interests
  • Beginning in Edinburgh or  Glasgow . Other pickup points are available
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Spooky castles – the most haunted Halloween castles in the UK

Linlithgow Palace 44 HDR print by David Rankin

The UK has hundreds of ruined castles. But some castles are more spooky than others. Here’s a list of the spookiest , most haunted castles in the UK , ideal for a visit at Halloween . If you’re brave enough to visit one of these castles , why not send a  free Halloween greeting card

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle commands the whole of the city centre , sitting on a volcanic rock . The castle is perhaps the spookiest in Britain because it has many ghosts. There is a drummer who only appears when the castle is
about to be attacked. A piper who disappeared in the
tunnels between the castle and the High Street comes back to haunt the dungeons. The castle is Scotland’s biggest visitor attraction with thousands of visitors each year.

edinburgh castle screensavers
Buy Edinburgh
Castle screensaver
£3.95

Send a free Edinburgh Castle Halloween e-card.

Eilean Donan Castle

This is one of the most picturesque and most photographed castles in
the world . Robert the Bruce took refuge here in 1306 . The
original castle was destroyed in 1719 when 3 English
frigates attacked the Spanish troops garrisoned there
. The castle was rebuilt in the 20th century . This castle is spooky because the spirit of
a Spanish troop is said to haunt the castle.

Send a free Halloween e-card

Eilean
Donan castle screensavers

. More pictures of Eilean
Donan Castle

Craigievar
Castle

The Blue Bedroom is the haunt of one of the Gordon clan members, who
fell from a window. He had been pushed to his death by “Red”
Sir John Forbes, a noble. Several people heard the step of
the unfortunate Gordon climbing the stairs to the Blue
Bedroom, as if he was living the moment before his death
again and again.One of the
other ghosts is one of a musician, who is very selective (he
shows himself just to people with the name of Forbes). He
fell in the moat of the castle and drowned. Send free Halloween e-cards

Linlithgow Palace

This was the castle of the Stewart kings of Scotland from the 15th
century . In 1512Mary , Queen of Scots was born here .
Queen Margaret’s Tower at the top of the stair towers
, is said to be haunted by the Queen’s mother , Mary of Guise , waiting for the
return of her husband , James V .

More pictures of Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow travel guide

Crathes
Castle

In the oldest part of the castle, the double tower, there is a room
known as the Green Lady’s Room, because of the several
apparitions of this unknown woman with a baby. It is said
that she’s a member of the Burnett family, proprietor of the
castle.These
apparitions began after the discover of two skeletons,
during renovation work : one of a woman and one of a baby.
The baby is said to be the child of a man who preferred to
kill the baby and the mother to hide their
relationship.The fact
that the apparitions continue, even after the discover of
the bodies means than the two poor beings will never be able
to rest in peace.

Stirling Castle

The castle stands on volcanic rock overlooking the town of Stirling and
the countryside . Mary , Queen of Scots was crowned in the
old chapel in 1533 . The Pink Lady , a beautiful woman in a
pink silk gown , has been seen many times at the castle . It
may be Mary , Queen of Scots. Others say it is the ghost of
a woman searching for her husband who had been killed when
Edward I captured the castle .

Free Stirling Castle e-cards

More pictures of  Stirling Castle
Free Halloween greeting cards


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3D pictures of castles

Edinburgh Castle 11
Edinburgh Castle 11

I have added three 3D picture galleries to the website . Each one features a 3D cube with 6 pictures on it . You can control the cube by holding your cursor over it .There are 3D pictures of Edinburgh Castle and Eilean Donan Castle

The Edinburgh Castle 3D pictures gallery features six of my pictures of the famous castle which is consistently one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK

Eilean Donan Castle
is my favourite castle in Scotland , sitting on a small island in the middle of 3 lochs

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Edinburgh Castle stays top of visitor attractions

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle remains the most popular visitor attraction in Scotland according to figures released by Historic Scotland .Edinburgh Castle had more than 580,000 visits in the four months to the end of August, a 7% annual rise. Stirling Castle was the second most popular of Historic Scotland’s sites – with over 228,000 people over the same four months. The top 10 attractions also included Skara Brae, Iona Abbey and Fort William. All saw a rise in visitors over the year before.The main reasons for the increase are the Year of Homecoming and the fact that the weak pound made Scotland an attractive holiday destination for Europeans.

Kari Coghill of Historic Scotland said: “Our attractions enjoyed a good summer right across the country. The 2009 Year of Homecoming campaign was clearly a major help as it brought the whole of our tourism industry together to focus on the common goal of attracting visitors by promoting all that’s best about Scotland.
At the same time we obviously benefited from the fact that a weak pound made Scotland an attractive destination for Europeans. But we have also been doing a huge amount to market all that Historic Scotland has to offer, and the good value it provides, and that has seen our membership numbers pass 100,000 for the first time.” Historic Scotland is one of 2 main agencies in charge of Scotland’s castles , the other one being the National Trust for Scotland. more Edinburgh Castle pictures

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