Discover Something About Mary, Queen of Scots

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Cast of Mary's tomb (C) Scottish National Portrait Gallery 1024x768

For many of us, we know her as perhaps the most famous monarch to have their head chopped off. But delve a little deeper, and you’ll find that murder, intrigue, deception and death have all been associated with the short life of Mary, Queen of Scots. Historians and the public alike have been divided on who the queen really was; a Catholic martyr, driven by love for her country and her God, or a cold and calculating adulteress who would resort to murder to achieve her ambitions?

Now is the time to make up your own mind on this famous historical figure. At the National Museum of Scotland, recently voted the best museum in the UK, you can discover an exclusive new exhibition. Various objects and artefacts associated with the ruler’s life have been brought together for the very first time, piecing together her story as never before.

Head along to the museum on Chambers Street, Edinburgh, where you can find jewels, textiles, furniture and documents belonging to the former Queen which altogether weave a more intimate story of her life into an already well-documented timeline. Look at her earliest known letter, sent to her mother while she spent her childhood in France, and see embroideries thought to be made by her own hand when imprisoned in later life.

This exhibition will run until the 17 November but you’ll find there are other endless ways to retrace the footsteps of Mary, Queen of Scots in historical locations across Scotland, a number of which are managed by Historic Scotland. At her royal residences, you can see chambers and apartments where she not only lived day to day but have also witnessed some of the more dramatic events, such as the Palace of Holyroodhouse where you’ll gaze at the spot where her Italian confidante and rumoured lover, David Rizzio, was murdered.

All year round you can visit castles where Mary herself once stayed, some which provided sanctuary with others being places where the Queen was held captive. You can see the face of Mary, Queen of Scots, eerily frozen in time from 400 years ago at Lennoxlove House in East Lothian where her death mask is on display.

As you set out to follow this doomed queen’s journey, you can also find out a thing or two about why she is now such a contentious figure and a more about this fascinating period of history at a new section of the VisitScotland website, Discover Something About Mary.

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Amy Robertson

Amy is media executive at VisitScotland. Hailing from the west coast of Scotland, she's rather fond of music festivals, coastal walks, whisky and coal fires.