Historic sites, protected landmarks and visitor attractions across the country with links to Mary Queen of Scots are to be showcased in a new tourism campaign aimed at capitalising on the launch of the new big-screen depiction of the iconic monarch.
A new interactive map created to mark the film’s UK release this weekend features 19 different locations which were either visited by Mary or deployed by the makers of the movie.
Highlights include Mary’s birthplace town of Linlithgow, where a month-long celebration of the West Lothian’s towns links with Mary is under way.
Businesses in Linlithgow are being urged to create special window displays and sell Mary-themed products to herald the release of the film, which features Hollywood stars Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie as the Scottish monarch and her cousin, English queen Elizabeth I.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, where Mary lived between 1561 and 1567, Wemyss Castle, in Fife, where Mary met her second husband, Lord Darnley, for the first time in 1565, and Huntingtower Castle, in Perthshire, which the couple visited on their honeymoon, are all on the map.
Visitors are being urged to head for Loch Leven Castle, in Kinross, where Mary was held prisoner for nearly a year, and Inchmahome Priory, in the Lake of Menteith, in Stirlingshire, where Mary found sanctuary at the age of just four.
The map also features half a dozen of the key locations featured in the film, including Blackness Castle, in West Lothian, Seacliff beach in East Lothian, Strathdon in Aberdeenshire, and Glencoe and Glen Feshie in the Highlands.
Neil Christison, regional director of VisitScotland, said: “Mary, Queen of Scots is a Scottish icon and an important part of Scotland’s history and culture. 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 the Mary’s Meanders tour company, which is based in Linlithgow, said: “As a town, we’re very proud to be the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and we’re delighted this film gives us a chance to highlight the connections between Mary and Linlithgow.”
Josie Rourke, the film’s director, has revealed that the entire film, which took 53 days to shoot, would have been made in Scotland had the country had proper studio facilities. Although locations in Surrey and Derbyshire were deployed for the production, which ended up using Pinewood Studios in London as its main base, three and a half weeks of filming were still carried out across Scottish locations.
She said: “We wanted to do as much as possible in Scotland, 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.”
Isabel Davis, executive director of the Screen Scotland agency, added: “Josie Rourke’s illuminating portrait of Mary and the swirl of political forces that determined her fate is dramatically set off by Scotland’s spectacular locations, providing UK audiences with a richly rendered account of our shared history.”