Mary, Queen of Scots school project tour.

Second Level - Mary, Queen of Scots in Edinburgh Tour

“Thanks Robert!  Your knowledge and delivery today were superb, and you got the children just right!  I’ve already started recommending your tours” 

P. Browning - Class Teacher

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Take your class into the heart of Queen Mary's Old Edinburgh

£3 per pupil
Adults go free
Maximum of 36 (including adults) in Greyfriars Kirkyard
Meeting place
In front of Museum of Scotland (Chambers Street)
Accessibility info
Gradients and steps
2 hours

Quick description

The main events in Mary’s life took place in a wide variety of 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 site of 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.  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.  

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.

Learning about John Knox and St Giles' Cathedral (the High Kirk).

Contact us

Click the 'contact us' button to go to our school tour contact page.  We're usually able to reply within 12 hours.   

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Meet your teacher-tour guide

Some of the learning questions we can answer on this tour

“What happened to Mary’s second husband, Henry, Lord Darnley?”

Your "Mary" tour of Edinburgh starts with a bang…almost literally! 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!  It could be argued that this assassination was one of the most significant events in Mary's history.

Henry, Lord Darnley.
“What were the important places in Mary’s Edinburgh?”

We’ll visit quite a few places which were important in Mary’s life.  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 find out about the welcome Edinburgh gave to 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 also see where John Knox lived and where Mary spent her last night in Edinburgh.

The Palace of Mary de Guise.
“What things happened to Mary while she lived in Edinburgh?”

Obviously, Mary spent time in places other than Edinburgh, but there are many things that 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.

Mary, Queen of Scots.
“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 in 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!

The murder of Darnley.
“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.  These important 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!”

Exploring remnants of Mary's Edinburgh.
“Why was Mary’s reign so important?” 

There’s 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 the first King of Scotland and England and commissioned a grand tomb.  We will see a replica of this tomb in the Museum of Scotland.   Classes will also find out about the intolerance of Mary’s time when they visit the site of the palace of Marie de Guise. We’ll also learn about the armed struggle which took place even after Mary had left Scotland.

The memorial to Mary, Queen of Scots.

Important information for the class teacher

Accessibility for all pupils.
Accessibility information

Although pupils won’t be walking for the full two-hour duration of this tour, there are limited places where we can offer rest areas.   We’ve put together a page highlighting some relevant accessibility issues that occur on this tour route.  

We’ve put together a page highlighting some relevant accessibility issues that occur on this tour route.  

We can suggest some route alterations if your class requires this.  There are limited options for this, however. Sadly, the Old Town is hilly and not brilliantly paved.   All our tour routes cross at pedestrian crossings, and any alternative solutions might include streets which don’t have proper crossing areas.

We’ve put together an accessibility information sheet with some information for your risk assessment print-out. You can access these here.

Image by Abhishek Yadav
Wet weather information

This tour is an ‘outside’ tour, and there are no areas where we can shelter out of the rain.  We do realise that a wet and windy day probably isn’t going make for positive memories!

We’re pretty flexible and will happily reschedule your date.  There’s no extra cost for this.  We realise this is useful if you are travelling on foot or using public transport.  If you have organised transportation, then please know that, whatever the weather, we will be there for you!

If you’d like to reschedule your tour, please let us know by 8.30 am on the morning of your tour.  My mobile number is 07590 026 077.

Risk assessment

Risk assessment is something which your governing body will legally need you to carry out and, as such, we can only offer some suggestions and recommendations for your paperwork.

While we can’t offer these as your official risk assessment, please click here to download our suggested risk assessment information and route instructions.

We’ve put together an accessibility information sheet with some information for your risk assessment print-out. You can access these here.

Toilets on tour.
Toilets (and how to add even more value to your school tour!)

We’ve got no ‘toilet’ stops on our tour, but you are welcome to ask the Museum of Scotland if you can use theirs.  Most of our schools’ tours of Edinburgh start just across the road from there.   You may also want to book a teacher-led guided tour/exploration of the Museum of Scotland.


This is free.  They also offer a series of paid workshops.  Booking something either of these options will allow you to ask for the use of their lunchroom.   

We also recommend checking out the educational workshops at Riddle’s Court.  These come with a cost.  A lunchroom is sometimes available.

Contact us

Click the 'contact us' button to go to our school tour contact page.  We're usually able to reply within 12 hours.   

A detailed itinerary

We understand that you might want even more information about this Edinburgh walking tour.  Some people like lots of detail, we've got that for you!

Please click the 'Learn more' button to see a detailed itinerary for this tour.