Increase in visitor numbers to Scottish monuments
27 February 2019, 10:21
Scotland's castles have enjoyed a boost in visitor numbers, latest figures show.
Doune Castle, Stirling, saw a 14% increase in footfall after 142,091 people visited last year.
Urquhart Castle by Loch Ness meanwhile welcomed more than half a million people for the first time, up 6% to 518,195 visits.
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said the "Outlander effect" has helped draw international visitors keen to explore filming locations featured in the TV series.
With 605,241 people making a trip Stirling Castle - an increase of 7% - it was the second most visited of HES staffed heritage sites in 2018.
As in previous years, Edinburgh Castle came out top with 2,111,578 visitors, an increase of 2%.
Outlander continued to draw people to historic locations, with Blackness Castle in West Lothian reaching 50,000 visitors for the first time - an increase of 36% from the previous year.
Overall footfall to HES staffed sites grew by 5% from 2017 to 5,229,049.
Stephen Duncan, HES commercial and tourism director, said: "As well as the 'Outlander effect' bringing international visitors to Scotland to explore its rich history, we have also seen an increase in the number of Scots visiting heritage sites as evidenced in our highest ever membership figure.
"With Scotland being used as a filming location for productions such as Outlaw King and Mary Queen of Scots, we hope visitors will continue to be inspired to explore the history of the sites they see on the big screen."
HES looks after 300 heritage sites, including 77 staffed Historic Scotland attractions.
Glasgow Cathedral and Skara Brae were among its top 10 visited sites last year, along with Linlithgow Palace, St Andrew's Castle, Fort George and Iona Abbey.