Edinburgh Castle breaks visitors record

Japanese tourists enjoy a daay at the Castle. Picture: IAN RUTHERFORD

Japanese tourists enjoy a daay at the Castle. Picture: IAN RUTHERFORD

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MORE than 8000 visitors paid their way into Edinburgh Castle every day in July – making it the attraction’s busiest ever month.

Some 249,923 people visited the Castle in total in July, the highest number in any single month since records began. The figure topped the previous record of 229,940, which was set in August 2013.

The Castle welcomed a record 666,348 visitors across the whole summer period from June to August.

Historic Scotland, which runs the site, said the busiest single day was in August, when more than 10,600 visitors from around the world passed under the portcullis.

The Castle also recently welcomed its one millionth visitor for 2015 – the earliest in the year that this milestone has ever been reached.

More than 1.8 million people in total flocked to Historic Scotland’s attractions around the country this summer – an increase of more than 34,000 on the same period last year.

Scotland’s second busiest attraction was Stirling Castle, which welcomed 216,132 
visitors throughout the three summer months.

Meanwhile, more than 34,000 people visited the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, Linlithgow Palace, while Urquhart and St Andrews castles welcomed 190,083 and 34,957 visitors respectively.

Skara Brae in the Orkneys – one of Europe’s best-preserved prehistoric settlements, which dates back around 5000 years – welcomed 55,078 visitors during the three months.

And a record-breaking surge of people have visited Doune Castle, near Stirling, due to the “Outlander effect”, according to Historic Scotland.

The castle has seen a 44 per cent increase in visitors since it took a starring role as “Castle Leoch” in the TV series.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: “This record-breaking year for visits to Historic Scotland properties demonstrates the value, significance and growing appeal of Scotland’s heritage to visitors.

“From Orkney to the Borders, Scotland’s history and heritage filled landscapes are a truly unique resource.”

Stephen Duncan, director of commercial and tourism at Historic Scotland, said: “Heritage attractions are a vital element of Scotland’s wider tourism offering. Edinburgh Castle had a particularly strong summer, with three consecutive record-breaking months.”

Archaeologists have found evidence for human occupation of the Castle Rock going back to 900 BC, in the late Bronze Age. The castle itself was constructed in the 12th century, including St Margaret’s Chapel, which is the oldest existing building in Edinburgh.

In 1996, the Stone of Destiny was placed in the Crown Room alongside the nation’s Crown Jewels, known as the Honours of Scotland, following its return from Westminster.