Stirling Castle: guidebooks


Second edition 1948, 7th impression 1967


2nd ed. 1948 (8th impress. 1972)

The first edition of the guide to Stirling Castle was published in 1936: the description by J.S. Richardson, and the history by Margaret E. Root. A second edition appeared in 1948, and it continued as a ‘blue guide’ into the 1970s (note the move from guide-book to guide).

A fold-out plan was placed inside the back cover.

The cover of the Richardson and Root guide is ‘a drawing of a portrait medallion representing James V, one of a set of wood panels originally in the ceiling of the King’s Presence Chamber’. The heads were the subject of a monograph published by the Royal Commission in 1960. A booklet was issued by the Royal Commission in 1975, with the text by John G. Dunbar.



The Historic Scotland guide by Richard Fawcett was published in 1999. This consisted of a guide tour followed by the story (not history) of the castle.


1999 (repr. 2002)

Huntingtower: guidebooks


Huntingtower © David Gill

Huntingtower, near Perth, was placed in State Guardianship in 1912. James S. Richardson prepared the first guidebook in 1931. A second edition appeared in 1950 and continued in print into the 1970s. The blue guide uses a detail from the ceiling inside the castle. Richardson’s guide starts with historical notes (pp. 1–5), followed by a description (pp. 6–9). Black and white photographs, as well as floor plans appear in the centre of the guide. He comments:

Viewed from any point, Huntingtower presents a picturesque appearance; the broken line of walling, the corbelled parapets with their subdued corner rounds and the corbie-stepped gables give the visitor an impression of a Scottish fortified-house of the 16th century, divested of its outer defensive works, garden and orchard.


1st ed. 1931; 2nd ed. 1950 (4th impress. 1972)

A third edition of Richardson’s guide was published in 1982. Historical notes have been replaced by history, and description by descriptive tour. Photographs and plans are incorporated in the text.


1982, 3rd edition


HMSO 1989 (Historic Scotland 1996, 2001)

Richardson’s guide was replaced in 1989 by a new guide by Denys Pringle. There are two main sections: the story of Huntingtower, and the architecture of Huntingtower. The centre pages provide a short tour of the castle. Floor plans are printed inside the back cover.

Glasgow Cathedral: guidebook



The cathedral church of St Kentigern is named after a 7th century saint. There is likely to have been a monastic site in the vicinity of the later cathedral. The cathedral itself was consecrated in 1197. It was rebuilt in the 13th and 14th centuries.

The guidebook was prepared by C.A. Ralegh Radford and contains a history (pp. 7–25) and a description (pp. 26–42). There is a foldout plan of the cathedral inside the back cover showing the layout of the altars. A series of black and white images appear in the centre of the guide.

Dirleton Castle: guidebooks


Dirleton Castle © David Gill

J.S. Richardson prepared the first guidebook for Dirleton Castle 1934. A second edition appeared in 1950, and this continued as a blue guide into the 1970s. This consisted of a histroy: Lands of the Barony; the De Vaux Family; the castle during the Wars of Independence; the Halyburtons; the Ruthvens; the raid of Ruthven; the Gowrie Conspiracy; Ruthven building; furnishings and gardens; the Dirleton witches; Cromwell and the Moss-troopers. This was followed by a description. A foldout plan and sections were placed inside the back cover.


1934 (2nd ed. 1950; 7th impress. 1973)

Chris Tabraham revised Richardson’s guidebook in 1982. A new guidebook, by Tabraham, was published in 1995. This consists of two main sections: Guided Tour and History.


1995 (rev. ed. 2007)

Leading Visitor Attractions 2018: Historic Environment Scotland


Linlithgow Palace © David Gill

The figures for the Leading Visitor Attractions 2018 are now available. There are a number of sites in the care of Historic Environment Scotland:

  • Edinburgh Castle [12]: 2,111,578 [+2%]. 2017: 2,063,709 [+16%]
  • Stirling Castle [63]: 605,241 [+7%]. 2017: 567,259 [+18%]
  • Urquhart Castle [69]: 518,195 [+6%]. 2017: 488,136 [+23%]
  • Glasgow Cathedral [75]: 482,783 [+24%]. 2017: 389,101 [+36%]
  • Doune Castle [170]: 142,091 [+14%]. 2017: 124,341 [+38%]
  • Skara Brae [179]: 111,921 [+2%]. 2017: 110,028 [+18%]
  • Linlithgow Palace [187]: 94,718 [+9%]. 2017: 86,596 [+16%]
  • St Andrews Castle [188]: 91,302 [+1%]. 2017: 90,617 [+18%]
  • Fort George [198]: 71,906 [-5%]. 2017: 75,798 [+24%]
  • Iona Abbey [200]: 64,183 [-3%]. 2017: 66,224 [+2%]
  • Blackness Castle [203]: 58,388 [+36%]. 2017 42,810 [+42%]
  • Melrose Abbey [204]: 58,286 [-1%]. 2017:  58,989 [+11%]
  • St Andrews Cathedral [206]: 56,249 [-4%]. 2017:  58,395 [+26%]
  • Tantallon Castle [213]: 43,170 [-14%]. 2017: 49,955 [+17%]
  • Elgin Cathedral [217]: 39,398 [+3%]. 2017: 38,201 [+25%]
  • Craigmillar Castle [220]: 35,442 [+13%]. 2017: 31,269 [+35%]
  • Caerlaverock Castle [221]: 35,305 [-8%]. 2017: 38,540 [+8%]
  • Dirleton Castle [224]: 29,764 [-2%]. 2017: 30,219 [+8%]
  • Dumbarton Castle [226]: 28,546 [+6%]. 2017: 27,033 [+12%]
  • Maeshowe [228]: 28,414 [+11%].

Iona © David Gill

Cardoness Castle: notice signs


Cardoness Castle © David Gill

The top of Cardoness Castle provides views over the estuary. Visitors are discouraged from trying to get on top of the walls. One points out the danger, the other expressly forbids it.


Cardoness Castle © David Gill


Cardoness Castle © David Gill

The second reproduces the word ‘Notice’: surely redundant on a sign? And the clear indication that ‘visitors are not allowed on wall top’ is ‘by order’; underneath is an erased  line, ‘Ministry of Works’.


Cardoness Castle © David Gill

Elgin cathedral: guidebook


1938 (2nd ed. 1950, 8th impress. 1973)

The first See of Moray was created in 1107. However the present location (juxta Elgyn) was only consecrated in July 1224 when it became the cathedral church of the diocese.  The constitution of the cathedral was based on Lincoln. After the reformation the building fell into risrepair and the roof was removed in 1567.

The guidebook, subtitled, The Cathedral Kirk of Moray, was written by J.S. Richardson (description) and H.B. Mackintosh (history). A fold-out plan is placed inside the back cover.