Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has announced that over 20 sites across the country are to reopen their doors to visitors this weekend.

Popular seasonal sites will be welcoming visitors again, while several heritage locations will also be reopening following high-level masonry inspections. 

Among the sites reopening are Lochleven Castle, which famously held Mary, Queen of Scots prisoner on her return from France, and Broch of Gurness on Orkney, one of the most outstanding examples of a later prehistoric settlement to survive in Scotland.

From Easter weekend, visitors can also head to attractions including Inchcolm Abbey, Spynie Palace and Newark Castle.

Also reopening will be Stanley Mills, the spectacular mill which harnessed the power of the River Tay to produce textiles for 200 years, and the prehistoric Cairnpapple Hill, site of an incredible Neolithic henge monument and a number of important Bronze Age burials.

READ MORE: Scotland’s only circular castle reopens after essential conservation work

Several sites will also reopen this spring following high-level masonry inspections, including Elcho Castle, Lochranza Castle and Bothwell Castle.  

Access restrictions were put in place at some sites as a safety precaution while HES introduced new measures to manage the impact of climate change on its heritage assets. 

The High-Level Masonry Programme also assesses the scale of deterioration caused by a number of other factors, including the materials used in the building’s construction, its age and physical location.

Stephen Duncan, Director of Marketing & Engagement at HES, said: "It’s fantastic to be able to welcome visitors back to so many of our iconic sites this season.

"These historic attractions contain invaluable stories about Scotland’s past, and we’re thrilled that these places can once again be enjoyed by people across the country. 

The Herald: Cambuskenneth Abbey will also reopen this SpringCambuskenneth Abbey will also reopen this Spring (Image: CC/Rory660)

“We’re also pleased to be able to reopen and increase access at further sites following high-level masonry inspections, with over 90% of our estate open for the public to explore and enjoy.” 

The announcement that over 20 sites across the country are to reopen their doors to visitors comes weeks after Scotland’s only circular castle, Rothesay Castle, reopened to visitors after essential conservation work.

The castle dates from the 11th century, when the Hebrides, including Bute, were given to Norway by Edgar of Scotland. However, the king’s descendants were determined to recover the islands, and by 1200 they had succeeded. Rothesay Castle, with its formidable defences and unique design, was built soon after to protect Rothesay against further sieges by the Norwegians. 

Further works took place in the grounds in the later 1400s, with the addition of an impressive gatehouse and St Michael’s Chapel in the courtyard. Having then fallen into ruins, the castle was restored in the 1800s.

Tomorrow (Friday) will also see the oldest house in Glasgow, Provand’s Lordship, reopen to the public following improvement works.

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Upgrading works have included repairs to the building's roof, chimneys, and downpipes. Doors and windows have been replaced in original styles and protection against rising damp has been added.

Visitors will also see the new lime harling render that helps preserve the building and make it look as it did when it was built in 1471. Around £1.6 million was spent on repairs and improvement work, which started in the summer of 2022.

Bailie Annette Christie, Chair of Glasgow Life and Convener for Culture, Sport and International Relations for Glasgow City Council, said: "Reopening Provand's Lordship in time for Easter will offer as many people as possible the chance to visit.

"Inside, Provand's Lordship remains a time capsule of medieval Glasgow, showing people what life was like in the city 500 years ago.

"The reopening of Provand's Lordship comes as visitors have a final opportunity to visit the People's Palace before it closes for refurbishment. The investment in both these Glasgow icons will protect these important cultural heritage assets for future generations."