Probably Scotland’s most famous Monarch, Mary was a devout Catholic and claimed the English Crown was rightfully hers. She was perceived as dangerous to the English Queen, Elizabeth I who, after a turbulent 19 year journey beheaded Mary for treason at Fotheringhay Castle near Peterborough.
After a short period at Peterborough Cathedral, in 1612 her son James exhumed her body and brought her to Westminster Cathedral. Learn about Mary’s troubled history and visit some of the most famous sites from her return from France and her life in Scotland.
We start the tour in Leith, now a suburb to Edinburgh but still technically a separate town. After the death King Francis II of France in December 1560 Mary returned to Scotland grief stricken. She landed in the Port of Leith and sought refuge at Lambs House where her perilous journey through Scotland began as an adult. Her claim to the Scottish throne and strong catholic beliefs were not well received.
The birthplace of Mary, Linlithgow Palace was a ‘half way house’ along the Royal Route between Edinburgh and Stirling and was often used as a recreation and entertainment venue for the Scottish Royal Family. The Palace was destroyed after Bonnie Prince Charlie (the Jacobite young pretender) left in 1745 and much of its history now lies in Ruin.
Stirling Castle tour
Mary spent a considerable amount of time at Stirling Castle throughout her life. She was crowned in the chapel at Stirling Castle when just 9 months old and returned to the crown palace many times in her adult life. The Castle has been widely restored to how it would have looked in the 16th century and is a must-see attraction in Mary and Scotland’s history.
Arguably one of the most impressive preserved 16th century buildings in the world, Falkland Palace was the Stuart Royal family retreat. Mary spent summertime pursuing country activities such as falconry and also Royal tennis (Real Tennis) at the world’s oldest tennis court. The Palace has extensive grounds and an orchard that Mary spent much time in, thinking about her ascension to the throne of England.
A stones throw from Edinburgh, Craigmillar Castle is often referred to as Edinburgh’s ‘other castle’. Mary spent two periods of her life here, once whilst quite unwell after the birth of her son and once before the murder of her Husband in the ‘Craigmillar plot’. Come to Craigmillar Castle and learn about the time in Mary’s life just her flight to England.
The castle at Edinburgh has been rebuilt many times and was both a military garrison and royal seat. Mary gave birth to James IV at Edinburgh Castle in June 1566. Centuries later a small coffin was discovered behind wood panelling in the room. Was this the body of the heir to the Scottish throne.
Whilst we typically don’t include Edinburgh Castle in a day tour because of logistics and time required to tour the castle, it is a must-see attraction whilst you’re in Edinburgh.