HUNDREDS of historic Scottish heritage sites are to reopen as the country's biggest operator of visitor attractions reopens its doors to the public.

Day-trippers will be able to visit the outdoor grounds of Doune Castle, Caerlaverock Castle and Dundonald Castle from Wednesday, June 15 and other sites will be opened on a rolling basis from August to September. 

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Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has announced plans to reopen 200 unstaffed and "key-keeper" sites - where the only member of staff is employed to physically open and close the site to the public.

From Saturday, August 1, the public can visit the outdoor areas of Urquhart and Edinburgh Castles and some of the indoor areas of Stirling Castle where social distancing is possible will also be opened to the public. 


HES anticipates more indoor spaces will be opened in castles moving towards the end of August and have identified 23 "key sites" for reopening through to mid-Spetember, including Glasgow Cathedral, Fort George, St Andrews Castle and Cathedral and Skara Brae.  

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES, said: “We’ve been working exceptionally hard to ensure our properties will be accessible and ready to welcome visitors, however, it’s important that we implement our resumption plans at the right time given the different requirements for each site.

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“This also includes looking at the varying local and regional requirements throughout the country and we have considered this when setting out our phased approach to welcoming visitors back and supporting Scotland’s tourism and economic recovery.

"There will, of course, be some initial changes including managing visitor numbers at certain sites, as well as restricting access to specific locations, but we can assure visitors of a warm welcome as always.

"We want to ask our visitors to help create a safe environment by behaving responsibly and following our guidance at properties, and we will be providing further information on our website for visitors to help them prepare for their visit.”

The additional 23 ticketed sites proposed for reopening in August and September are:

  • Aberdour Castle
  • Arbroath Abbey & Abbott’s House
  • Blackness Castle
  • Caerlaverock Castle
  • Craigmillar Castle
  • Dirleton Castle
  • Doune Castle
  • Dryburgh Abbey
  • Dumbarton Castle
  • Dunblane Cathedral
  • Dunstaffnage Castle
  • Elgin Cathedral
  • Fort George
  • Glasgow Cathedral
  • Huntly Castle
  • Inchcolm Abbey
  • Jedburgh Abbey
  • Linlithgow Palace & Peel
  • Melrose Abbey
  • Skara Brae
  • St Andrews Castle
  • St Andrews Cathedral
  • Tantallon Castle