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Infinity Stone me!

Press Release   •   Apr 26, 2018 11:10 BST

Calanais Standing Stone on the Isle of Lewis

As the Avengers prepare to prevent Thanos from capturing the infinity stones in the latest Marvel blockbuster released today (Thursday, 26 April), Scotland’s own precious stones are capturing the imagination of visitors, VisitScotland can reveal.

Scotland is home to 1233 sites occupying standing stones, among the most ancient in Europe, and 352 sites featuring a Pictish symbol stone – more than you can shake a world-destroying gauntlet at.

And the national tourism organisation can reveal that sites of some of the country’s most well-known stone attractions are proving as popular with visitors as the fictional cosmic gems are with the Titan warlord, with visitor figures showing increases of up to 45% over the past five years.

One of the most recognisable collection of standing stone sites, the 5,000-year-old Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis, saw a 20% increase in visits to its visitor centre between 2013 and 2017.

UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, which features The Stones of Stenness (considered the earliest henge monument in the British Isles) and The Ring of Brodgar, saw 25,501 visits to its visitor centre at Maeshowe last year – a 7% rise from 2013.

Edinburgh Castle, which houses the Scottish Crown Jewels (the Honours of Scotland) and the Stone of Destiny (the Coronation Stone), has seen visits rise an incredible 45%, from 1,420,027 to 2,063,709, over the same period.

The figures come from the Scottish Visitor Attraction Monitor, which is collated by the Moffat Centre, based at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Today marks the release of Avengers: Infinity War, the latest instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which was partially filmed on location in Edinburgh last year.

Starring Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson and Inverness-born Karen Gillan among others, the film sees Earth attacked by Titan warlord Thanos who is intent on finding the Infinity Stones – six stones which hold cosmic power – to place in his gauntlet and allow him to rule over the universe.

To coincide with the release of the film, VisitScotland has produced a blog on holiday destinations in Scotland which will appeal to those with superhero traits:

Jenni Steele, Film and Creative Industries Manager at VisitScotland, said: “We’re delighted that Scotland’s ancient past continues to enthral our visitors. Marvel’s infinity stones aren’t the only must-see stone attractions this year and you don’t need a world-conquering army or super powers to capture our fascinating objects.

“Avengers: Infinity War marks an exciting time for film tourism. Many productions have been shot in Scotland recently and they provide some great opportunities to promote the locations to visit and inspire fans to see them for themselves. We can’t wait to see Edinburgh and locations such as Waverley Station, the Royal Mile and Cockburn Street feature on the big screen, as the Avengers battle it out in one of the year’s biggest blockbusters.”

For more on Scotland’s standing stones, go to


Attraction Visits 2013 Visits 2014 Visits 2015 Visits 2016 Visits 2017
Calanais Visitor Centre 41,728 42,703 45,171 47,941 50,008
Edinburgh Castle 1,420,027 1,480,676 1,568,508 1,778,548 2,063,709
Maeshowe 23,787 24,125 23,280 23,667 25,501

*The Historic Environment Scotland “Canmore” National Record of the Historic Environment records 1233 sites under the category of Standing Stone and 352 sites for Pictish Symbol Stone:

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2018 Year of Young People

  • The Year of Young People 2018 will be the next of the Scottish Government’s series of themed years, following the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.
  • The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally
  • Central to YoYP 2018 will be a celebratory events programme that puts young people at the heart of its development and delivery, creating new and valuable experiences for young Scots and the wider public, with links to the inaugural 2018 European Championships.
  • Over 200 young people throughout Scotland are currently being recruited to become YoYP 2018 Ambassadors. Ambassadors will ensure that people and organisations in their communities know about what’s happening and will lead on projects and activities to create events and opportunities to celebrate young people.
  • The Year of Young People will have six themes which were developed in co-production with young people themselves:
  • oParticipation – looking at how young people can influence public services and decisions which affect their lives
  • oEducation – creating a stronger role for young people in shaping their learning
  • oHealth and Wellbeing – supporting young people to lead healthier, active lives and have opportunities to learn about and improve their mental health and resilience
  • oEquality and Discrimination – broadcasting the value of young Scots, challenging negative perceptions of young people, and supporting young people to take leading roles in challenging discrimination in all its forms.
  • oEnterprise and regeneration – celebrating young people’s role in innovation, entrepreneurship and the Scottish economy as well as making Scotland a greener and more pleasant place to live
  • oCulture – celebrating young people’s talent and contribution to Scottish culture and arts.
  • Further information on what’s happening and how people can get involved can be found on the new website or @YOYP2018 on Twitter.