EDINBURGH castle is among several Historic Scotland sites to experience record visitor figures, with several other sites also recording at least one record breaking month during the winter period.
These include the Neolithic complex of Skara Brae, Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, St Andrews Castle, Linlithgow Palace and Doune Castle.
Stirling Castle meanwhile, the former home of Mary, Queen of Scots, saw record breaking figures in February, when it played host to the Great Tapestry of Scotland exhibition as part of its tour of Scotland, with visitor numbers increasing by 63% on the previous year.
In total, 439,229 people visited Historic Scotland’s top ten sites between November and February, a 10% increase on the previous record, which was in 2013/14.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: “These figures illustrate the year-round appeal of Scotland’s diverse heritage sites which form a central part of our tourism offering, attracting people in their many millions each year.
“Edinburgh Castle has had a fantastic winter, welcoming more visitors than ever before, whilst also providing the backdrop to a number of key events over the winter as we celebrated Scotland’s winter festivals from St. Andrew’s Day to Burns Night.
“Meanwhile, across Scotland, sites from Skara Brae to Lithlithgow Palace continue to enthral visitors with their individual stories, as well as providing the opportunity to tell Scotland’s wider story, such as the Great Tapestry of Scotland exhibition at Stirling Castle which has seen record breaking figures for the castle.”
Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism for Historic Scotland, said: “It has been a fantastic winter for visitors to our properties, with record breaking figures achieved.
“Edinburgh Castle topped 200,000 visitors during the winter, which was an 11% increase on the previous record in 2013/14. Stirling Castle also had a fantastic winter, with a 24% increase in visitors compared to the previous year, and a hugely successful exhibition in February in partnership with the Great Tapestry of Scotland.
“Meanwhile across the estate, record breaking months were achieved at Urquhart Castle, Skara Brae, St. Andrew’s Castle, Linlithgow Castle and Doune Castle.
“As we look ahead to the upcoming summer season, this year marks another important one for us, with the completion of the Stirling Castle Tapestry project, a 15 year project to recreate the Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries, whilst our main events programme will begin at Easter and run until Christmas across a number of our sites, helping to bring history to life.”
Historic Scotland’s top 10 attractions are: Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Urquhart Castle, St Andrews Castle, Doune Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Fort George, Skara Brae, Melrose Abbey, Iona Abbey.