Melrose Abbey has been declared world class and one of Scotland’s best visitor attractions. Independent quality assurance inspectors from VisitScotland have awarded it the coveted five-star status after examining every aspect of the visitor experience. This means the three staffed Borders Abbeys cared for by Historic Scotland, and Smailholm Tower, are all now five-star attractions. Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, Michael Russell, said: “You can’t get better than five star, so this is a brilliant achievement by the staff at Melrose. It now means that all Historic Scotland paid attractions in the Borders are of five star status. All the staff at the attractions have worked very hard to get and to keep this level of quality across the region. This is a great achievement for the staff locally, for the heritage agency overall and something we can be very proud of.”
“Melrose Abbey has a lot to celebrate this year as its visitor figures for the year so far have jumped by 15.6% compared to 2008 – an absolutely tremendous performance.”
Between April and the end of August the abbey attracted 33,558 visitors compared to 29,025. Historic Scotland had a campaign earlier this year which offered a special price for membership especially for the Year of Homecoming 2009. The campaign proved an enormous success due, the agency believe, to many people having “staycations ” – staying at home for holidays – and looking for value for money family days out. Melrose Abbey may be benefiting from this extra emphasis on value from families suffering from the credit crunch.
The abbey had previously been a four-star attraction, but it has improved its rating thanks to the introduction of new and more modern information boards, material and information for visitors. VisitScotland has operated a quality assurance inspection scheme for visitor attractions since 1995. The scheme gives an independent quality assurance award and incorporates the inspection of properties for Thistle tourist signposting. There are five quality grades for the standard of facilities and services following the assessment of the appropriate areas.
Historic Scotland is one of the two main organisations which run Scotland’s castles and historic Scotland , the other one being the National Trust for Scotland . HS is a government agency which has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the top tourist attractions in Scotland, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/places
Historic Scotland’s mission is to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment. Historic Scotland has been a major supporter of the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.
Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s most impressive castles due to its imposing position and impressive architecture. Our new free castle pictures gallery features a number of Scottish castles .
From Stirling Castle’s ramparts, visitors can take in views of the Forth Valley and Ben Lomond , as well as two of Scotland’s most important battle sites – Stirling Bridge (1297) and Bannockburn (1314). The castle is at the head of Stirling’s historic old town.Like Edinburgh Castle , Stirling sits on a volcanic rock dominating the city skyline .
The Renaissance pomp and pageantry of the Royal Court of Mary Queen of Scots returns to Stirling Castle next month when the queen and her entourage come home to Scotland for ‘A Royal Summer Holiday’.
Castle visitors can become courtiers at this family event from Saturday 1st to Monday 3rd August and join the 16th-century VIP visitors as they have some fun. Skittles, quoits, and firing a crossbow are on offer .
Costumed players throughout the castle will be leading special children’s tours of the castle and sharing all of the latest gossip about the lords and ladies in attendance. And kids will also have an opportunity to join the royal guard to help protect the royal party as they take a break from governing the country.
Historic Scotland Interpretation Manager Sheena Garden said: “Stirling Castle is not only one of Scotland’s grandest and most imposing castles, it was also a real favourite with Scotland’s kings and queens. And their investment in it demonstrated just how much they loved to use it, as well as their desire to ensure it both impressed all who visited it, and represented a statement of their power and wealth. James IV created the Great Hall, the largest medieval banqueting hall ever built in Scotland, and James V’s Royal Palace, with its lavishly decorated Renaissance façades, was a masterpiece of the period.
Major conservation work has been carried out at Stirling Castle over many years to preserve the attraction as a major national and international monument. The refurbishment of the Great Hall was completed a couple of years ago . A particular feature of the Great Hall is stained glass windows featuring clan crests . A number of banquets and cocerts are held in the Hall throughout the year . An ambitious £12 million scheme, the Stirling Castle Palace Project, is currently underway to restore and refurbish the Royal Palace at Stirling and present the Royal Lodgings as they might have appeared in the heyday of Scotland’s Stewart court in the mid 16th century. An interpretive display on the court of James V will be created in the palace vaults and a Renaissance Gallery on the upper floors of the palace will house the original Stirling Heads, a rare group of intricately carved oak ceiling medallions depicting kings, queens, courtiers and mythological creatures. Costumed interpreters will bring the rich history of the 16th century to life to enrich visitors’ enjoyment.
Stirling Castle is one of over 345 outstanding heritage properties and sites in the care of Historic Scotland. Historic Scotland is a Government agency responsible for running and maintaining many castles in Scotland . Ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings, these include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country. Among the most popular are Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castle , Skara Brae, and Melrose Abbey . For further details visit Historic Scotland