The Chain Mail

Welcome to The Chain Mail - a visitor’s guide to the sights and sounds of Historic Scotland

Disabled Access Day: 15 things to help you enjoy our sites

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We welcome everyone to our abbeys, castles, mills and distilleries. Here’s just a few things we offer which may help you enjoy your day (and which you may not know about!):

1. The Access Guide: A good first port of call for planning any visit to our sites. The guide contains physical descriptions of our sites (dimensions, ramped access, lifts, toilets etc), as well as information on sensory exhibits and historic displays. If there’s any information missing, please contact us.

Our Access Guide can help you plan a visit to one of our sites.

Our Access Guide can help you plan a visit to one of our sites.

2. Free learning visits: Schools, colleges, universities, charities and community groups can all arrange to visit our sites for free. We can tailor these visits to your group and cater for individual requirements, using interactive activities, handling boxes and the creative arts. Group leaders can make a free planning visit before the day itself. For more information, visit here or contact the Learning Team.

Visitors from Capability Scotland have a trip to Glasgow Cathedral.

Visitors from Capability Scotland have a trip to Glasgow Cathedral.

3. User reviews: If you visit one of our sites on Disabled Access Day, why not post a review on Euan’s Guide? Our sites are listed so you can see how other people’s visits went, and use them to help you plan your own. We’re also really keen for people to leave feedback so that we can make improvements for the future!

4. Carers and Personal Assistants: We realise you may need additional support to enjoy our sites, and so if you bring a carer with you, they’ll be able to go in for free.

5. Accessible parking: Many of our sites have accessible parking bays close to their entrances. Check the Access Guide or contact a site while you’re planning your visit to see if there’s disabled parking – our staff will be happy to answer your questions.

6. Courtesy cars: At both Edinburgh and Stirling Castles a driver can take you up to the top of the castle. The cars are wheelchair-friendly, and can help navigate the cobbles and hills that so often make castles inaccessible. Ask staff to arrange this for you when you arrive.

Stirling Castle guides can drive visitors to the top of the castle.

Stirling Castle guides can drive visitors to the top of the castle.

6. Audio-descriptive tours: These are available through the audio guides at Stirling Castle, and many of the Edinburgh Castle Guides have been trained to offer descriptive tours of the castle. Contact the site before you visit for more information.

7. Touchscreen exploration: Elgin Cathedral towers have been transformed into an exhibition of the cathedral’s carved stones – testament to the artistry of medieval masons and the power of the Bishops of Moray. For those who can’t climb the spiral stairs, an interactive catalogue of the exhibition can be found on the ground floor. Through this computer, you can virtually enter each room, and see the panoramic views from the top of the towers.

Visitors can explore Elgin’s exhibition from the ground floor.

Visitors can explore Elgin’s exhibition from the ground floor.

9. Stirling Access Gallery: has displays and interactives which allow mobility impaired visitors to explore parts of the castle that are hard to reach. Use them to discover the Royal Palace and the crafts involved in creating its sumptuous décor.

Stirling Access Gallery allows you to explore hard-to-reach areas of the castle.

Stirling Access Gallery allows you to explore hard-to-reach areas of the castle.

10. British Sign Language theatre performances: Last year saw the first BSL theatre performances at our sites. Both A Midsummer Night’s Dream and A Christmas Carol were staged with sign-language performers in the midst of the action. This year, we hope to run our first BSL tours – watch this space for further developments!

11. Large Print Audio Guide Scripts: ask staff for these at Edinburgh, Stirling, Iona, Melrose, Smailholm, Fort George, Doune, Jarlshof and Jedburgh. 

12. Braille Guidebooks: Currently available at Edinburgh Castle – just ask the staff when you arrive and they’ll provide you with a braille guidebook to use during your visit.

13. Sensory stimulation: Many Historic Scotland properties offer ways to excite the senses. Beyond the chill of cavernous cellars and the dusty smell of stone, our gardens at Jedburgh, Stirling and Dirleton will now be stirring into life, yielding the fragrance of spring. At Edinburgh Castle your fingers can explore a bronze mould of the Scottish Crown Jewels, and at Fort George, a bronze model can help you understand the layout of this sprawling fortress. 3d prints of the Elgin stones allow visitors a tactile exploration of the new exhibition. The Stirling Vaults are a hub of play and sensory stimulation in the heart of the royal castle.

The garden at Jedburgh Abbey contains herbs and scented flowers.

The garden at Jedburgh Abbey contains herbs and scented flowers.

14. Dressing up: Don a hat, cape or habit to feel the weight and texture of past fashions at sites including Stirling, Caerlaverock, Doune and Melrose.

Visitors to Stirling touch and try on Renaissance costumes.

Visitors to Stirling touch and try on Renaissance costumes.

15. Our staff: Every day our staff work to make Scotland’s history accessible and inspirational to everyone. If you need any help accessing one of our properties, our staff will do everything they can to make sure you enjoy your visit.

Gemma and Nick, ready to help visitors to Melrose Abbey.

Gemma and Nick, ready to help visitors to Melrose Abbey.

 

We’re delighted to be taking part in Disabled Access Day for the first time, in this Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.  Visit for the first time, explore and tell us what you think! How can we improve your experience? Or have we got it just right? We’d love to know! Follow us @welovehistory

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About Author

Sally Gall

Sally works in the Interpretation Unit, and loves the writing and research involved in telling tales of the castles, abbeys, cairns and factories in our care – especially when this involves folklore and music.

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