Advice for reopening heritage sites

© David Gill

As heritage sites and locations start to reopen after the lockdown there are various factors to consider. Here is a select list of helpful websites:

Leading Visitor Attractions 2019: Historic Environment Scotland

Iona © David Gill

The visitor numbers for Leading Visitor Attractions in 2019 are now available. Properties managed by Historic Environment Scotland attracted over 5 million visitors in 2019. Top of the list is Edinburgh Castle with 2.2 million visitors, followed by Stirling Castle (609,000), Urquhart Castle (547,000) and Glasgow Cathedral (537,000). Skara Brae on Orkney received over 115,000 visitors, no doubt reflecting the presence of cruise ships.

The top six sites attract over 4 million visitors in 2019.

Historic Royal Palaces: pandemic impact

Tower of London © David Gill

The Tower of London is one of the Top Visitor Attractions in the UK with 2.9 million visitors in 2019. With Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace these three properties attracted 4.5 million visitors in 2019. However, due to the pandemic closure, there is a major impact on income for the properties (“Coronavirus: Tower of London Beefeaters face job cuts due to pandemic“, BBC News 20 July 2020).

Data Source: ALVA. Chart © David Gill.

Heritage tourism: Cambridge University Museums

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge © David Gill

Cambridge University Museums play an important part in the visitor economy for Cambridge (1.3 million visitors in 2019). The Fitzwilliam Museum is the most visited, though there has been a steady decrease in recent years from 441,000 in 2016 to 349,000 in 2019. The Cambridge University Botanic Gardens have seen a steady increase to 334,000 in 2019.

The refurbished Kettle’s Yard and the University Museum of Zoology have seen a substantial increase in numbers, 231,000 and 134,000 respectively in 2019.

Heritage sites in England reopening

Framlingham Castle
Framlingham Castle looking north from the gatehouse. © David Gill

English Heritage has started to reopen a number of its key sites. Further locations are due to reopen in August.

Details are available here.

Heritage sites in Scotland reopening

Doune Castle © David Gill

Historic Environment Scotland has released details of its plans to re-open the heritage sites in its care during August and September. From 15 July this includes the grounds of Caerlaverock, Doune and Dundonald Castles.

Caerlaverock Castle © David Gill

Heritage site in Wales to reopen

Laugharne Castle © David Gill

Properties in the care of Cadw will be re-opening from August following the COVID-19 lockdown (“Wales’ ancient monuments set to reopen in August“, BBC News 18 July 2020). The first to re-open will be the castle at Laugharne on 4 August 2020.

The properties will include UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the castles and town walls of King Edward in Gwynedd (Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy, and Harlech) and Blaenavon Industrial Landscape.

Heritage tourism: East Anglia

Ickworth © David Gill

The top seven paid heritage visitor attractions in East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) account for 1.1 million visitors a year (2018). Four are properties managed by the National Trust: Ickworth, Blickling Hall, Felbrigg Hall, and Oxburgh Hall. Framlingham Castle is managed by English Heritage.

Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery © David Gill

There is a single museum, the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery.

Sheringham Station, the Poppy Line © David Gill

The Poppy Line (North Norfolk Railway) is also in the top seven.

Chart © David Gill

Heritage tourism: Messenia

The fortress, Pylos © David Gill

Messenia in the south-west Peloponnese has been developing as a tourist destination. One of the main archaeological attractions is the classical city of Messene, and the Late Bronze palace near Pylos (‘Nestor’s Palace’). The fortresses at Pylos and Methoni are now tourist attractions in their own right with 46,000 and 71,000 visitors respectively.

Methoni © David Gill

The six archaeological sites in Messene now attract over 221,000 visitors a year (2019).

Data: Hellenic Statistical Service. Chart © David Gill

Heritage tourism: Attica

Rhamnous © David Gill

By 2019, the six staffed archaeological sites in Attica (outside Athens) had attracted over 445,000 visitors. This was a significant growth from the 179,000 in 2004. The coastal deme centre of Rhamnous only attracted 7,000 visitors in 2019, up from 2,000 in 2004.

Brauron © David Gill

The sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron attracted 32,000 visitors in 2019 up from 4,000 in 2004.

Sounion © David Gill

The most popular site was the coastal temple of Poseidon at Sounion attracting 326,000 visitors in 2019.

Eleusis © David Gill

The Telesterion at Eleusis attracted 45,000 in 2019 up from 8,000 in 2004.

Data: Hellenic Statistical Service. Chart © David Gill

The other sites are the Amphiareion and the soros at Marathon. The Amphiareion is on the tentative list for World Heritage status as part of the ancient theatre grouping. It attracted over 23,000 visitors in 2019.