Scotland's historic landscapes and built heritage

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Year of Natural Scotland 2013
Year of Natural Scotland 2013

Celebrate Scotland's natural beauty throughout 2013

  • Looking down on the Falls of Clyde, a waterfall with trees either side
    The Falls of Clyde
  • The ruins of Holyrood Abbey © Historic Scotland
    The ruins of Holyrood Abbey © Historic Scotland
  • Iona Abbey, founded by St Columba in 563 AD, with views across to the Isle of Mull
    Iona Abbey, founded by St Columba in 563 AD
  • Looking across the Peel to Linlithgow Palace
    Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian
  • Looking into a dwelling at Skara Brae
    Skara Brae

Scotland's historic landscapes include a wealth of monuments and castles spread throughout the country. Uncover fascinating tales of royalty, exploration and conservation across historic sites, many of which are havens for an array of wildlife.

Historic monuments and sites

There is no shortage of historic sites and monuments across Scotland which perfectly illustrate the nation's journey through the ages.

In the ebb and flow of the tide, a saint takes his first tentative steps on Scottish soil. It’s AD 563 on the peaceful Isle of Iona and with the arrival of St Columba, or Colmcille, comes the flourishing of early Christianity and art with the establishment of the magnificent Iona Abbey.

Celebrating the 1450th anniversary of his arrival this year, Historic Scotland are hosting a new exhibition featuring reconstructions of the first high crosses as well as a new audioguide so you can listen to dramatic stories of Viking raiders, lords and pilgrims. Near the captivating abbey you’ll find Reilig Odhrain, the ancient burial ground of the powerful Lords of the Isles.

Discover the Neolithic village of Skara Brae or the Ring of Brodgar, a spectacular stone circle on Orkney. On the western isle of Lewis, see the mythical standing stones of Calanais or in Aberfeldy visit Iron Age dwellings recreated by the Scottish Crannog Centre, and learn how our ancestors used to live and work the land.

Another of Scotland's five UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the beautifully restored 18th century cotton mill village at New Lanark and is a fascinating day out for the whole family. A short distance away is the popular circular walking route around the magical Falls of Clyde.

Royal connections

Explore the royal connections of Scotland's many castles by following the Castle Trail in Aberdeenshire, the only one of its kind in Scotland. These include the Highland of the Royal Family at Balmoral and Craigievar, which is said to have been in the inspiration behind Walt Disney's castle.

Further south, in Edinburgh & The Lothians, explore the beautiful ruins of Holyrood Abbey within the grounds of the Palace of Holyroodhouse before taking a leisurely walk through Holyrood Park.

Or head to nearby West Lothian and visit Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots. It provides a dramatic backdrop for the wildfowl population which inhabit Linlithgow Loch and the surrounding peel, which has the protected status of being a Site of Specific Scientific Interest.