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Craigmillar Castle tour

Take your learning outdoors and into  Craigmillar Castle with this specially designed tour

2017 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence for Historic Edinburgh Tours
2018 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence winners - Historic Edinburgh Tours

As of 28/05/2023,  321 of our 326 Tripadvisor reviews awarded us five-stars! 


We’ve designed this tour to help teachers deliver an early years/First Level project on castles.  We’ll cover some of the most interesting aspects of castles - castle features, life in a castle, attacking and defending a castle, and why people stopped building castles.

This tour isn’t one where your guide simply points out the past and talks; it’s been carefully designed to maximise active thinking skills and ‘think, pair, share’ opportunities’.

We recommend Craigmillar Castle for this tour.  Craigmillar is usually quiet and easy to explore, and there’s a minimal charge from Historic Environment Scotland.  Please note that any fee for using the castle, and your castle booking, is separate from the fee from Historic Edinburgh Tours.


£3 per pupil.  No charge for adults.

Please note that the fee for Craigmillar Castle is separate from our fee.  Please book your time at the castle yourself.

Click the button below to secure a suitable date and start the discussion about your tour.


Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance


We work with you to give you the tour you need and want


Historic Edinburgh Tours is rated '5-star' on Tripadvisor


You will need to complete your own risk assessment form for the trip.   We can offer suggestions for this.




We will meet you at Craigmillar Castle.


We will arrange to start your tour when your coach arrives.  Public transport is available, but most classes visiting the castle use private coaches..


This tour takes 1 hour (approx).


Muddy slopes, uneven paving, steps. 


When your tour finishes, you can plan to spend some time (or have a snack break) in the castle.


We will invoice your school after the tour.  There's no need to bring payment on the day.  We'll send the email to you; if you could pass this on to your school's business manager, we'd be very grateful.​


Here are five of the places we can visit on your private tour. There are more! How long we spend on each story and how much walking we do is up to you!


“What makes a Castle different from other buildings?”

Your guide will use laminated ‘Lego’ weapons to investigate the different types of weapons used when attacking a castle.  
When we've moved right up to the castle walls, pupils will work with partners and laminated images of soldier types to choose which troops they’d use if they were an attacking general.  It’s an excellent opportunity for discussion!


“Why did people stop building castles?”

Our investigation on weapon types lets us investigate how weapons changed and why castles had to change because of this.  The change in weaponry meant a massive shift in role for your typical castle.


“What design features did castles have and why?”

At Craigmillar Castle, we’ll go right up and touch the castle walls.  It’s an awe-inspiring (and intimidating) sight to look up and into the gaps in the defences towering above us!  These gaps were used to shower nasty things onto any attacking armies.

We’ll continue our look at the soldiers and weapons used at this stage of the attack, and we’ll use this to highlight some of the features which castle defenders would have used against us.  We deal with these ideas with ‘First Level’ appropriateness!


“What can we see, hear and smell in a castle?”

Castles have a very different ‘feel’ to them, and this tour will make the most of opportunities to encourage your class to use their senses as they move around the building.

Your class will walk under a portcullis, in and out of exposed old rooms, and they’ll even see an authentic toilet!   They will walk up turnpike staircases,  hearing the echoes and muffled sounds, smelling the smells you experience when visiting a castle.  These sensations make for great writing opportunities back in the classroom!


“What was it like to live in a castle?” 

Craigmillar Castle is a terrific place to explore!  We’re often the only group in the castle, which lets your class use their detective skills to investigate the interior rooms and work out how they were once used.

The kitchen of Craigmillar is a great place to investigate.  Your guide will point out various features in the room for your classes to think about and then use to help them imagine this room as it once was.  There are so many opportunities for the class to use their history detective skills. 


2018 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence winners - Historic Edinburgh Tours

Certificate of Excellence award winner 2017 and 2018.


Tripadvisor Traveller's Choice award winner 2020 and 2023.

five star rated tour of Edinburgh

As of December 15, 2022, 99.6% of our reviews have been five stars.


Your tour will be led by a primary teacher with 25 years of classroom experience.


"Our class loved the Castles tour - and so did I! The learning was aimed perfectly for their age-group and interests. It was great to have a guide who not only had a depth of historical knowledge but was also able to engage so well with the children - an ideal combination. "

Jan CW - Class Teacher


Q: Can we have a snack break on tour?

A: You can, but this means your class will be 'snacking' during their 1.5 hours. We strongly recommend you snack your class outside the Museum of Scotland (the steps up to the old central doorway make a great place to sit on a sunny day). You may also want to ask the Museum if your class can use the toilets. The Museum opens at 10 am, and I typically prefer classes to attend any sessions there from 10.30 am onwards. Reception staff may allow you to use the toilets before then. Male and Female toilets are on the ground floor and are situated next to each other. They're straightforward to 'police'.   Please note that we don't organise this for you, and it depends on the Museum of Scotland.

Q: What happens if it is a stormy day?

A:  This tour has significant 'outside' sections with limited areas to shelter from the rain. However, we realise that a wet and windy day probably won't make for positive memories!  

We're pretty flexible and will happily reschedule your date. There's no extra cost for this, although this may not be possible due to your castle booking or organised transportation. 

If you'd like to reschedule your tour, please let us know by 8.00 am on the morning of your tour. My mobile number is 07590 026 077

Q: What happens if we are running late?

A: Don't worry! Robert was (and still is) a classroom teacher. Traffic can happen, and parent helpers can have issues and turn up late. These things happen! It may impact the duration of your tour if you have time restraints.

Q: Are there toilets along the tour route?

A: There are toilets within the grounds of Craigmillar Castle. We suggest visiting them at the end of the tour.

Q: We have a pupil/adult in a wheelchair. What do we need to do?

A: Sadly, most castles don't have perfect accessibility options, although Historic Environment Scotland properties make alterations where possible. Please let us know in advance. We will discuss the options available to us.

Q: Do you have any risk assessment advice?

A: Yes! You will need to complete your forms, but we can offer some suggestions for you.

Q: Do you book the castle for us?

A: No. Historic Environment Scotland may be able to offer subsidised travel (they've done this in the past). It's better if the school makes the booking for the castle. Please note that our fee covers the tour only. You will have to book transport and use of the castle separately. Edinburgh Castle has strict guidelines for tour guides - we can't guide inside any of the buildings. We suggest you consider booking Craigmillar Castle. Previous classes have been able to lunch in the castle and then explore the grounds in their own time after the tour.

Q: We've got two classes. Can we combine both for one tour?

A: Sadly not. Bigger groups are harder to move around the castle. We recommend that one group explore the castle with the class teacher (possibly including a walk up to the viewing platform on the top of the castle). The other group can work with us. We can then switch the groups.


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