Second level Mary, Queen of Scots tour itinerary
Take your learning into the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. Your class will use archive images and maps as they explore Queen Mary's Edinburgh on this teacher-designed and led tour
Your Second Level Mary, Queen of Scots in Edinburgh tour
We've included a list of the places and stories we can look at on this tour. This list can be adapted for the needs of your own class. We may also 'chop and change' given the time available for your tour. If there are things you absolutely wish to look at with your class, please let us know and we will prioritise these.
1 – Kirk o’Field – The murder of Henry, Lord Darnley.
Your walking tour of Edinburgh during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots starts at one of the most famous places associated with her life – Kirk o’Field. Robert, your Edinburgh guide, will meet the class in front of the Museum of Scotland and will give out the laminated activity sheets the children will use throughout this tour. The group will then move into the courtyard of Old College; this building sits over the site of Kirk o’Field. We’ll use a ‘then and now’ map to work out the events of February 9/10 1567 and the murder of Henry, Lord Darnley, the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots.
2 – Museum of Scotland – Replica memorial of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Robert will have booked the class into a quick museum visit. The Museum of Scotland has a replica of the Westminster Abbey memorial to Mary, Queen of Scots. We’ll talk about the execution of Mary, and we’ll also look at an exciting coin which was minted under orders from Darnley. There’s also a significant guillotine which was used on someone who will learn about later.
3 – Greyfriars Kirkyard – George Buchanan.
Greyfriars Kirkyard was once the site of the Greyfriars Friary. After the Reformation, the Friars left Scotland and Mary gave the land to Edinburgh for use as a burial ground. John Knox is possibly buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, rather than behind the High Kirk of St Giles. We’ll visit one of the gravestones ( yes, we did say ‘one’) of George Buchanan. Buchanan was Mary’s teacher and also the teacher of her son, the future King James VI.
4 – Greyfriars Kirkyard – James Douglas, Earl of Morton.
The second grave we will visit in Greyfriars Kirkyard belongs to James Douglas, Earl of Morton. We’ll find out why he was influential in Mary’s reign, his role during the ‘Lang Siege’ of Edinburgh Castle and why his memorial is very ‘understated’.
5 – The Grassmarket – The wedding of King James IV and Margaret Tudor.
Mary, Queen of Scots, was a claimant to the throne of England and Queen of Scotland. Her claim comes from King James IV and Margaret Tudor (Mary’s grandfather and grandmother). Margaret Tudor was a daughter of King Henry VII, meaning that this royal couple’s offspring had claims to both kingdoms’ thrones. We will follow in the footsteps of the wedding party as we go up the West Bow.
6 – The West Bow – The Bowhead House.
We come out at the Ovir Bow, next to what was the location for the old Bowhead House. Mary had two links to this area. The palace of Mary de Guise, her mum, lay across the road and part of the celebration welcoming Mary, Queen of Scots back to Scotland took place just next to this area. What happened here was quite significant.
7 – The High Kirk of St Giles (if selected and if open).
The High Kirk of St Giles charges a small fee for our group and, if desired, we can pay a quick visit into the Kirk to see the place where John Knox often spoke openly against Mary. We will also visit the Moray/Murray Aisle and use evidence there to discover what happened to Mary’s brother.
8 – Warriston’s Close – John Knox’s old house.
John Knox is one of the most famous of Mary’s rivals. We will visit the site of the house where he spent a lot of time when he was minister of St Giles. He spent more time here than he did in the ‘John Knox House’.
9 – Mercat Cross and the City Chambers.
We’ll stop briefly just next to the City Chambers, right where the house of Sir Simon Preston once stood. This was the place where Mary spent her last night in Edinburgh. And what a night it was…
This tour of Edinburgh finishes at the site of the old Mercat Cross. Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange and John Mossman were two of the supporters of Mary who were hanged at the Mercat Cross after the fall of Edinburgh Castle at the end of the ‘Lang Siege’.
Your Mary, Queen of Scots themed Edinburgh, guided tour finishes at the Mercat Cross, next to St Giles. Everything about this tour is customisable. We appreciate you may have pupils with SEN and also some with mobility issues. Where possible, Robert will offer route alternatives – sometimes for individual pupils and their support worker. If you have stories you want us to cover, let us know. If you wish to reduce the tour and miss a few of our suggested stops from the list above, we can. With enough notice, most things are possible.
On this tour of Edinburgh and the areas relating to the Mary, Queen of Scots, your class will use the following artefacts as pieces of historical evidence;
Replica tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots
Coin minted during the reign of Mary and Henry Stuart
The guillotine known as the ‘Halifax Maiden.’
George Buchanan’s metal gravestone in Greyfriars Kirkyard
The grave marker of James Douglas, Earl of Morton in Greyfriars Kirkyard
The High Kirk of St Giles
Window in the Moray Aisle of St Giles
Plaque on the wall of Warriston’s Close
Plaque on the wall of the City Chambers
Marker setts of the old Mercat Cross
We also use these sources from the Historic Edinburgh Tours archive;
A then and now map of Old College (used with permission by the University of Edinburgh)
Map of Edinburgh during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots
The ‘spy map’ of Kirk o’Field after the murder of Henry Stuart
Picture of the family of Henry Stuart
Map of the ‘Lang Siege’ of Edinburgh Castle
Some of the skills used;
Comparing a map of a small location with a map of the same area as it once looked
Using the map of Mary’s Edinburgh as we walk the
Comparing a place today with three archive images from different angles and artists
Looking for evidence on the buildings around us
We know that travel costs can be considerable. Most of our Edinburgh tours can be made to ‘fit’ around other experiences you may have booked up. This would give you two ‘trips’ but only one set of travel costs. If you’re looking for some ideas, please check out Riddle’s Court, Edinburgh Castle, the Museum on the Mound and the Museum of Scotland. The Museum of Scotland often has availability for their lunchroom, and you can take a self-led tour there with no cost. They also have some of the cleanest and safest toilets in the city. We will try to book you in for the lunchroom on this trip as we will be hoping to visit the Museum at the start of your tour.