A gathering of clansmen and clanswomen has been welcomed to the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle for the first time in centuries.

The last time the clans marched to the castle was when they came to Edinburgh to lay siege to it during the Jacobite uprisings in 1745.

The gathering on Monday was organised by The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which is celebrating its own ties with the Scottish diaspora of clans this year.

It is believed to be the only time that clans have been openly welcomed to one of Scotland's oldest fortresses.

During the Tattoo's August extravaganza, the military showcase will champion the theme Splash of Tartan, a series of events that will encourage people living in Scotland and those with a link to it to explore their ancestral connections with the country.

In the opening ceremony each evening, clan chiefs will lead their clan folk on to the Esplanade to the awaiting Tattoo crowd.

Brigadier David Allfrey, chief executive and producer of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, said: "Edinburgh Castle has been at the centre of so many extraordinary events over the years and it is tremendous that we will see another story playing out this summer.

"I wonder what the forebears of the clan chiefs and the leaders of the families would be thinking if they could witness so many of their descendants being entertained in the Great Hall?

"As well as looking to our history and heritage, I hope the Tattoo's 'Splash of Tartan' will serve to stimulate anyone with a little Scottish blood in their veins to visit and enjoy our hospitality and everything that is remarkable about modern Scotland."

In September 1745 more than 900 Highland clansmen marched to the city of Edinburgh to lay siege to the castle.

Although they managed to capture Edinburgh and Holyrood, they were never successful in capturing the castle as General Guest, governor at the time, would not surrender the castle to Bonnie Prince Charlie and his men.

Sir Malcolm MacGregor, convener of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, said they were looking forward to the summer events.

He said: "For the participating clans, it will be a dream come true to march onto the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, a location that has, over the centuries, been central to the clan story.

"Tartan will be to the fore with the clans kitted out in the 'Garb of Old Gaul'.

"The great cloth, that has been worn by the clans and Scottish regiments since the Jacobite period of the 1700s, will be on full display and worn with great pride."

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo returns to the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle between August 4 and 26.

Culture minister Fiona Hyslop said: "The clans are an integral part of our rich heritage, their histories shaping Scotland.

"The clans generate significant interest from the international diaspora and I welcome their involvement in this year's Tattoo."