Itinerary for open palace PROGRAMME scotland 2020

This programme offers you the opportunity for invaluable hands -on experience working alongside heritage specialists, gaining privileged access to collections behind the scenes at key heritage sites in Scotland.

Please click on the link below to see the full brochure for 2019:

Full Itinerary for 2019


Short Itinerary for 2020

Sunday 3rd May 2020 to Wednesday 20th May 2020

Please note the full itinerary for 2020 will be published in May 2020 but this shorter version will be regularly updated. Small details may change.


Day 1

Arrive in the incomparable World Heritage City of Edinburgh: meet your Open Palace programme leader, settle into your accommodation and enjoy a welcome tea.


Dugald Stewart Monument, Edinburgh


Gilmerton Cove, photo by John Dale (CC BY SA 2.0)


Day 2

Induction day – a chance to get to know Edinburgh and find out more about the programme with a wonderful walking tour. With a rich history Edinburgh is packed with historic architecture and hidden nooks and crannies, underground passageways, secret tunnels and mysterious Old Town closes. 


Day 3

You will take part in a fascinating practical session at the Royal Collection sites of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and The Queen’s Gallery. The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the Monarchy in Scotland. Founded as a monastery in 1128 at the end of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is a very significant site indeed in terms of Scottish history. Best known as the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, the Palace was the setting for many dramatic episodes in her short reign.



Riddles Court, Falkland Palace


Days 4-5

On Days 4 and 5 we will visit Riddle's Court which is a picturesque A-listed merchant's house just steps away from Edinburgh's famous castle. The 1590s building houses unique features including exquisite painted ceilings, authentic working fireplaces and panelled rooms all of which have been being painstakingly restored by skilled craftsmen. It is closely linked to the work of Patrick Geddes, environmentalist and father of town planning. We will be meeting the team from Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, a dynamic and innovative charity dedicated to regenerating significant historic buildings for the benefit of others.


Day 6

You will meet the team at the Surgeons' Hall Museums which comprise the Wohl Pathology Museum, the History of Surgery Museum and The Dental Collection. Originally developed as a teaching museum for students of medicine, SHM's fascinating collections, including bone and tissue specimens, artefacts and works of art, have been open to the public since 1832.


Surgeons' Hall, photo by Kim Traynor (CC BY-SA 3.0)



Days 7-8

We will spend two days at Traquair, Scotland’s oldest inhabited house. Visited by 27 Scottish Kings and Queens Traquair dates back to 1107 and has been lived in by the Stuart family since 1491. We will explore the archives and the textiles collections, have a splendid formal dinner in the Eighteenth century dining room and a ghost tour. You will stay on the Traquair estate itself in historic accommodation. 


Day 9

We will also be visiting Roman Vindolanda at Hadrian’s Wall. Formerly a key military post on the northern frontier of Britain, Vindolanda is the home of Britain’s ‘Top Treasure’ – the Vindolanda Writing Tablets – and is one Europe's most important Roman archaeological sites, with live excavations taking place there each year. We will undertake a fascinating workshop on archaeological drawing and enjoy a Roman lunch.


Roman Vindolanda at Hadrian’s Wall, photo by Optimist on the run (CC BY SA 3.0)


Alnwick Castle

Day 10

We will cross the border into northern England for a special tour of Alnwick Castle, one of the largest inhabited castles in the UK, which has been home to the Duke of Northumberland’s family, the Percys, for over 700 years. Combining magnificent medieval architecture with Italianate state rooms, Alnwick Castle is a northern treasure house. The property features as the magnificent Brancaster Castle in Downton Abbey, and was the setting for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter films.


Days 11-12

We will travel to Penicuik House which survives as the shell of a formerly grand estate house to find out about the estate management. The 18th-century palladian mansion was destroyed by fire in 1899 and a major restoration was completed in 2014. ‘Penicuik House stands within some 500 hectares of designed landscape, established in the early 1700s by Sir John Clerk, 2nd Baronet of Penicuik – a great product of its time and a noteworthy aspect of the culture of the Scottish Enlightenment. The designed landscape at Penicuik represents the transition from Baroque regularity to a more naturalistic treatment of the landscape.’

On Day 12 we will travel to Helensburgh, overlooking the River Clyde, to enjoy what is universally regarded as ‘Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s finest domestic creation’. The Hill House mixes Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Scottish Baronial and Japonisme architecture and design, almost all created by Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald. Much of the house has been restored to its original condition in 1904 when Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie and his family moved in. We will undertake several hands-on projects linked to the conservation and interpretation of the site and collection working with their expert staff.


The Hill House


Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

Days 14-15 

 You will have two free daya to explore Glasgow. Voted one of the friendliest cities in the world, Scotland’s biggest city is a stylish mix of arts, culture and unique Celtic charm.  It is home to more than 20 museums and art galleries, including the award-winning Burrell Collection, the magnificent Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and the Riverside Museum, a radical space designed by the late Zaha Hadid.


 Day 16

We will spend our day on the beautiful Island of Bute which has borne witness to many key periods in Scotland’s history. Standing stones and Bronze Age burial sites serve as testimony to the island’s ancient past; a past that has witnessed attacks across the ages from Viking raids to Cromwellian occupation.  We will visit the extraordinary palace of Mount Stuart. Arguably the finest piece of domestic architecture to emerge from Britain's Gothic revival in the 19th century, this lavish palace boasts a majestic marble hall, an awe-inspiring white marble chapel, sumptuous accommodation and unspeakably rich reception rooms. Mount Stuart was the first home in the world to have a heated indoor swimming pool, and the first in Scotland to be purpose built with electric light, central heating, a telephone system and a Victorian passenger lift. Most of these are still in use today and we will learn the secrets of their restoration and interpretation.


Photo of Drawing Room from Mount Stuart Facebook Page


Inveraray Castle


Day 13

We will explore the magnificent Inveraray Castle which has been standing on the shores of Loch Fyne since the 1400s, although the impressive castle we know today was inspired by a sketch by Vanbrugh, the architect of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard in the 1700s. The foundation stone was laid in 1746 and what followed was the construction - to a design by the architects Roger Morris and William Adam - of a truly modern, baroque, Palladian and Gothic-style castle, architecturally before its time. We will take part is a privileged access session in the Castle archive to learn about collections management.


 Day 17

In the morning we will visit the Huntarian Collections Study Centre.

Then we will travel to Ardgowan House which is is a fabulous late 18th-century mansion and estate on the Firth of Clyde near Inverkip, Scotland which opened its doors to the public only very recently. The Ardgowan estate has been held by the Stewart family since the early 15th century. The present house was begun in 1797, and is currently the seat of the Shaw Stewart baronets. The family will be showing us around the house and sharing the challenges they face in securing the long term future of the house. After which we will be having afternoon tea in the splendid Drawing room.


Ardgowan House


St Mungo Museum of Religious Life & Art


Day 18

We will be meeting Harry Dunlop, Learning & Access Curator at St Mungo Museum of Religious Life & Art who will explore the issues relating to the displaying & interpreting of faith collections.