In this momentous week when the future of the Union hangs in the balance, we are casting our eyes back to historic meetings of Scots and Englishmen. A country rich in stunning landscapes and vibrant cities, Scotland enjoys a thriving tourism industry. As a reflection of its dramatic past, it is jam-packed with fantastic places to visit. Whatever floats your holiday boat – scenery, culture, food, coast, hiking, skiing – Scotland delivers, and hurls in some history along the way. Here are some of our favourite places to visit.
Scone Palace, Perth: The Scone estate was once home to the legendary Stone of Scone, where Scottish monarchs were crowned – until Edward I pinched it in 1296 and installed it in Westminster Abbey. For centuries, the captured ‘Stone of Destiny’ sat beneath the Coronation chair despite various attempts – legal and less so – to return it home. Finally, after 700 years, the English handed it back and it now can be seen in Edinburgh Castle.
Edinburgh Castle: This iconic stronghold, sitting on a volcanic plug high above the city, is a must see when in Scotland’s capital. There is enough to keep you busy for a week but do fit in a visit to the very room where Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to that most prized thing: a son. In doing so, she secured her succession and strengthened her dynastic position. James became the first king of both Scotland and England after the Union of the Crowns in 1603.
Bannockburn, Stirling: In 1314, Robert the Bruce defeated Edward II in the Battle of Bannockburn, dramatically changing the path of Scotland’s history. Today, the ‘Battle of Bannockburn Experience’ uses cutting-edge 3D technology to transport you back 700 years, to take command of the medieval knights and soldiers on a virtual battlefield. So, perfect your best Braveheart impression, and prepare for battle: ‘they may take our lives, but they will never take OUR FREEDOM!’
Culloden Moor, Inverness: The last battle fought on British soil took place here in 1746 when the Duke of Cumberland’s army met, and annihilated, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s men. Although it lasted just one hour, it was most bloody of all the Jacobite battles; fighting in the rough, marshy ground, armed with swords and daggers, the Jacobites were overwhelmed by the Hanoverian cannon and guns and they lost over a thousand men. The site now boasts an award-winning visitor centre with an immersion theatre and interactive characters – so you’re guaranteed to get some gruesome insight into this famously one-sided clash.