There is something about Mary, Queen of Scots, in the town of her birth, as it launches a month-long celebration of its connection to the 16th century monarch, to mark the latest cinematic interpretation of her life.
Businesses in Linlithgow will embrace the “Month of MQS” – with window displays and Mary-themed products set to decorate the West Lothian town – to celebrate the film release of Mary Queen of Scots, starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, on 18 January.
Visitors and locals will be encouraged by Visit West Lothian and Pride & Passion Linlithgow to use the hashtags #MonthofMQS and #VisitLinlithgow to create a buzz on social media and inspire more people to visit.
Mary Stuart was born in Linlithgow Palace on 8 December 1542 and at just six days old was crowned Queen of Scots following the death of her father, James V. Her turbulent life culminated with her death on 8 February 1587 under orders of her cousin, Elizabeth I, Queen of England.
The Scottish monarch’s connection to Linlithgow is already recognised by several businesses in the town, including tour operators Mary’s Meanders (named after the queen) and most recently the opening of Eeek! Escape Rooms’ The Blunt Axe, a game in which participants must save Mary from being beheaded.
This week Linlithgow Heritage Trust gave a sneak peek of their newly restored Mary, Queen of Scots statue, a key object in the new Linlithgow Museum set to open in the spring.
The statue was erected in 2002 by the Trust as a memorial to one of the museum’s founders, Tom McGowran OBE. It was created by noted Scottish sculptor Alan Herriot, who also carried out the restoration work.
To coincide with the latest film’s release, national tourism organisation, VisitScotland, has created an online interactive map featuring historical and on-screen locations linked to Mary Queen of Scots, including Linlithgow Palace.
On the trail of Mary Queen of Scots highlights 19 historical sites linked to Mary Queen of Scots and six filming locations, including nearby Blackness Castle, which saw its courtyard double as the entrance to Holyrood Palace in the Hollywood production.
Filming of Mary Queen of Scots took place across Scotland in 2017.
Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “It is wonderful that the intriguing story of Mary Stuart has been brought to the screen. The new Mary Queen Of Scots movie offers Scotland's tourism industry an opportunity to encourage more people to come and enjoy our beautiful country.
“Businesses in Linlithgow, where Mary was born, are to be congratulated for doing their bit to attract visitors to the town. The Scottish film industry is going from strength to strength and this film will help enhance Scotland’s international reputation.”
Neil Christison, Regional Director, VisitScotland, said: “Mary, Queen of Scots is a Scottish icon and an important part of Scotland’s history and culture. Linlithgow played a starring role in her life and we hope this latest big-screen interpretation of the 16th century monarch will further inspire visitors to explore the real historic locations that formed part of her fascinating story.”
Emma Chalmers, founder of Mary’s Meanders Tours and Visit West Lothian board director, said: “We as a town are very proud to be the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots and are delighted that this new film gives us a chance to highlight the connections between Mary and Linlithgow. Mary’s Meanders Tours and Champany Inn are just two of the local companies working together to raise awareness of Mary Stuart and Linlithgow.
“Over the coming weeks we will encourage businesses, visitors and locals to celebrate the important role the town played in Mary’s life and share images of Linlithgow on social media using the hashtags, #MonthofMQS and #VisitLinlithgow, to hopefully inspire many more people to visit.”
William Morrison, Chair of The Linlithgow Heritage Trust said: “We are delighted that our Mary Queen of Scots statue is back home and looks stunning after being away to be conserved. The restored statue will take pride of place in Gallery One of the new Linlithgow Museum, which will open to the public this spring.”
Josie Rourke, director of Mary Queen of Scots, said of filming in Scotland: “We wanted to do as much as possible in Scotland and to show Mary in that environment and what her journey with it is.
“During the film, she comes to a deeper understanding and love of her country, so she had to be outside in it and witness the epic sweep of that landscape. Scotland is an extraordinary country, and it matches the scale of the story and the scale of what happens to Mary at certain points in the film. We just wanted to show Scotland in all of its incredible glory.”
The new Linlithgow Museum in the Linlithgow Partnership Centre is set to open to the public on Thursday, 18 April. Funders of the project include the Heritage Lottery Fund, West Lothian LEADER and West Lothian Council.
VisitScotland’s Mary, Queen of Scots map will be available online from 18 January at this link www.visitscotland.com/maryqueenofscots
Notes to Editors
- Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
- VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
- The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
- This will be supported by five overarching strategies: Marketing, Events, Quality and Sustainability, Inclusive Tourism, International Engagement.
- The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
- Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP
- For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
- Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
- For holiday information on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com
- For information about business tourism in Scotland go to www.conventionscotland.com
Scotland’s Themed Years
- Following an industry consultation, the Themed Years will now take place every second year to enable more time for planning and opportunities for collaboration.
- 2020 has been designated as a year in which Scotland’s Coasts and Waters will be showcased and celebrated with a programme of activity designed to support the nation’s tourism and events sectors.
- The year, led by VisitScotland will sustain and build upon the momentum of Scotland’s preceding Themed Years to spotlight, celebrate and promote opportunities to experience and enjoy Scotland’s unrivalled Coasts and Waters, encouraging responsible engagement and participation from the people of Scotland and our visitors.
- A year-long programme of events, activities and ideas will shine a spotlight on the impact our waters have had on Scotland, from the formation of beautiful natural features to the creation of our national drink – whisky.
- Join the conversation using #YCW2020
- 2022 will be the Year of Scotland’s Stories - a celebration of our rich literature, film, oral traditions and myths and legends.