A new festival to mark the life of Mary Queen of Scots has been announced on the anniversary of her audacious escape from Lochleven Castle.
The event will be held in Kinross on September 2 and 3 and was announced today (Tuesday) to coincide with the anniversary of the Queen’s breakout from captivity on May 2, 1568.
The town’s Market Square will be transformed into an immersive 16th Century encampment for the event led by the Clanranald Trust, the historians known for their work on Hollywood blockbuster Gladiator as well as the Outlander television series.
Mary escaped from the castle, less than a mile away from Market Square, where she was held after her surrender at the Battle of Carberry Hill, near Musselburgh, in June 1567.
Her subsequent abdication in favour of her infant son, James VI, was forced during her captivity the following month.
READ MORE: The life of Mary, Queen of Scots
Mary spent long periods of time in bed alone and ill at Lochleven, her husband, Earl of Bothwell, having been exiled after the East Lothian battle.
The queen is said to have given birth at the castle, either to stillborn twins who are buried in the grounds or to a daughter who was smuggled away to France and raised in a convent.
Meanwhile, plots were being hatched to free her from the island prison, principally by Willie Douglas, the son of her adversary Margaret Erskine, or Lady Douglas, who also lived on the island,
Willie sought permission to host May Day festivities at the castle and readily got everyone drunk as he assumed the role of the Abbot of Unreason, a leader of the party. Under the cover of the gathering, he nailed all but one of the castle boats to the shore.
Mary escaped dressed as a servant girl and made a sharp exit through the gates, which Willie locked before throwing the keys into a cannon.
Following her departure, Mary made one last attempt to defeat her enemies, an attempt that ended in failure at the Battle of Langside.
She went to exile in England where her cousin, Elizabeth I, had her confined for more than 18 years. She was found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth in 1586 and was beheaded the next year.
The Mary Queen of Scots festival has been hailed as a signature event of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: “The story of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots helps show how Scotland’s history is among the most compelling of any nation – and this is also reflected in many of our finest historic sites, from Linlithgow Palace where she was born to Loch Leven Castle where she was held prisoner before her escape and departure for England.
“The Mary Queen of Scots Festival - as a part of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology - offers us a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the story as part of our rich heritage and cultural traditions, drawing visitors of all ages from the local area and beyond.”
Visitors will experience the Royal Stuart Kitchens, which showcase the food of the period and the Blacksmith Armoury where visitors watch weapons and armour of the day being forged. Pottery, topiary and a full-scale jousting match featuring knights of the realm will also feature.
Visitors will be invited to mingle with the characters and absorb details of their training, lives, loves and losses - of which Mary Queen of Scots knew a thing or two.
Malin Allan from the Clanranald Trust said, “Scotland is built on the history of remarkable individuals and one of these is the trials & tribulations of Mary Queen of Scots. Upon meeting Lord Jamie Montgomery in 2015 and hearing his passion for the Tragic Queen and her connection to his beloved Kinross the Clanranald Trust is honoured to be part of the Mary Queen of Scots Festival bringing Mary’s story to life.”