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Second level Mary, Queen of Scots activity tour 

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

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! 


This tour is a carefully crafted experience for your pupils, one which will allow them to use pieces of historical evidence and discover the Edinburgh places where Mary once walked.

The main events in Mary’s life took place in various locations. Scotland, France and, ultimately, England all served as stages for Mary’s story.   We can’t (and don’t) cover all of Mary’s life in this tour, but we will take your classes to the scenes of incredible importance in Mary’s life.  

From a long-lost palace where Mary spent her childhood to the home of one of her most bitter rivals, this tour allows your children to explore the city as Mary would have known it.   We think there’s something inspiring about visiting the places where history happened! 

This tour is not an expository lecture.  Instead, we’ve incorporated numerous opportunities for ‘think, pair, share’ and other strategies.  Although your guide has over twenty years of experience as a primary teacher, this tour has been designed by him to let your pupils use and discuss a variety of different types of evidence.  


£3.50 per pupil.  This includes a 50p donation to City of Edinburgh Council for using Greyfriars Kirkyard. No charge for adults.

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. 

Click here to download our guidance notes for teacher risk assessment.

My P5s (and the grown ups) had a fantastic time on the Mary Queen of Scots tour. Being at the spot where Darnley died and having the map showing how it would have looked at the time was amazing. And the Tesco on South Bridge will never look the same to us now. Robert had the class captivated as they became history detectives and found out about the significance that familiar places had in the past. After 2 years of no trips, what an inspiring experience to start us off again! Many thanks.

Filigree06, Tripadvisor, May 2022



Meet just outside the Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street.


We recommend starting a morning tour at 10.30 am and an afternoon tour at 12.30 pm.  We do have some flexibility over these times.


This tour takes 1.5 hours (approx).


This tour finishes in the High Street, close to the City Chambers.


Moderate gradients throughout, uneven paving, steps.


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 happened to Mary's second husband, Henry, Lord Darnley?"

Your "Mary" tour of Edinburgh starts with a bang…almost literally!  First, we'll use 'crime scene' maps of the infamous Kirk o'Field site to learn about Mary's second husband's assassination.

The Kirk o'Field site is a fascinating and relevant part of your Mary tour.  Henry, Lord Darnley, was murdered on February 10, 1567, and we'll take your pupils right to the heart of the crime scene!  This assassination was one of the most significant events in Mary's history.


“What were the important places in Mary’s Edinburgh?”

We’ll visit quite a few important places in Mary’s life.  First, your class will see the site of the long-lost palace of Mary’s mother, Mary de Guise.  When she was an infant, Mary would have known this place well.  We’ll also learn about the welcome Edinburgh gave Mary when she returned to Scotland after her first husband’s death.

Your pupils can visit the High Kirk of St Giles (for a 50p extra fee which we give directly to the Kirk).  They’ll see where John Knox lived and Mary spent her last night in Edinburgh.


"Why was Mary's reign so important?" 

There are many reasons so many classes study the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, and we'll try to answer some of these on your tour.

Your pupils will learn about the significance of Mary's tomb. Mary's son, James, became King of Scotland and also of England. He commissioned a grand tomb. We will see a replica of this tomb in the Museum of Scotland.   Classes will also learn about the intolerance of Mary's time when they visit the site of the palace of Marie de Guise, and they'll also find out about the armed struggle even after Mary had left Scotland.


“What things happened to Mary while she lived in Edinburgh?”

Of course, Mary spent time in places other than Edinburgh, but many things happened here.

Mary spent some of her childhood in a Castlehill palace, and the reasons behind this help explain why her reign was a troubled one.  Although we don’t visit Holyroodhouse, we will visit the site of the murder of Henry, Lord Darnley.  Your pupils will also see a replica of Mary’s tomb, and they’ll find out about support for Mary even after she’d left Scotland.


“What evidence can we use to find out what Mary’s Edinburgh was like?”

We think it’s inspiring to use copies of the famous “Kirk o’Field murder scene” at the very place shown on this map!

Your pupils will use special laminated sheets to discover the past.  There are plenty of opportunities for ‘think, pair, share’ as we compare images from the past with the streets we can see today.  Your class will also see the replica of Mary’s tomb and a coin which tells us a lot more than they might expect!


What was life like in Mary’s Edinburgh?”

We know that a little ‘colour’ can help your pupils imagine what life was like for the people who lived during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots.  

We can lead your class right into an Old Town close by.  These essential little side-streets are where most of Edinburgh’s social life happened.


Your classes can find out about typical domestic arrangements, including (of course) what people did with their ‘household waste’!  “Gardyloo!”


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.


"The enthusiasm of Robert our tour guide really captured the children’s attention…I would highly recommend the tour for any class studying the History of Scotland or Edinburgh.”

N. Ritchie - 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: Don't worry, we will be there! We want you to have a good tour. If the weather is awful, we know you may prefer to reschedule your tour. We can even reschedule on the day - please let us know by 8 am on the day of your tour. You can text us at 07590026077.

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: No. We've not planned or risk assessed for toilet stops on any of our routes.

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

A: Edinburgh's history is there for all to be enjoyed. Please let us know in advance, and we can alter the tour route so everyone can enjoy the Old Town and our stories.

Q: Do you have any risk assessment advice?

A: Yes! You will need to complete your forms, but we've included a suggested risk assessment for your tour. You can access it here.

Q: Are there other things to do with Mary, Queen of Scots, which we can book in the Old Town?

A: We can 'dovetail' your tour times (and finish location) around any workshops you have booked at Edinburgh Castle, Riddle's Court or the Museum of Scotland. We also recommend looking at a free, self-guided tour at the Museum of Scotland, where several 'Mary' related artefacts exist. We visit the Museum on this tour, but the learners may enjoy some time browsing the exhibition areas. You can also book a lunch space in the Museum of Scotland.

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

A: Sadly not. Bigger groups are harder to move around the Old Town and cause more disruption for those around us. We're also limited to 35 people in Greyfriars Kirkyard. We may need to ask additional adult staff to wait at the Kirkyard gates. This is a ruling by the City of Edinburgh Council.


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