Read our regular staff blog and get a behind-the-scenes-view of life and work at Stirling Castle.

Christmas is all wrapped up at Stirling Castle

by StirlingCastle 26. November 2015 06:35

With just under a month to go until the big day, Stirling Castle is swinging into the Christmas spirit with a series of events and offers, including late night shopping at the Clan and Christmas gift shop on Wednesdays 9th, 16th and 23rd December. The shop is stocking lots of unique gifts by Stirling suppliers, and local business Wrapistry by Cherene will also be on hand to demonstrate creative Christmas wrapping ideas.

We caught up with owner Cherene Robertson to find out how you get a job wrapping presents!



Have you always had creative jobs?
I was meant to go to Edinburgh College of Art when I left school, but at the last minute I changed direction and went into travel. I studied in Dundee and Glasgow, and my ultimate goal was to work for an airline which I did – it was a brilliant job, and the highlight of my working life before I had my daughter Grace (who will be 12 on the 27th December!). I now divide my time between directing my husband’s local electrical company, and Wrapistry.


What or who gave you the idea to start a gift wrapping company?
My mum and three of my best friends. For as long as I can remember my mum and I have had this love of gift wrapping,  especially at Christmas. She encouraged me from a small age, it was our special mum and daughter time - and it still is, except my daughter Grace now joins in on it too! So we have a three generation gift wrapping company.


We rolled out four days before Christmas  in 2014, after one of my best friends said, “Cherene, stop hiding away go out and show everyone what you can do!” She said the public should have the chance to experience the wrapping I was already doing for family and friends, and encouraged me to be brave and ‘dip my toe in the water’ - so here I am!  And I feel very lucky to be surrounded by so many positive individuals, who are great sounding blocks and most of all want to see me succeed. The support of my friends and family means everything.



What’s the best thing about the job?
One of the best things has to be seeing the look on a customer’s face when they see the finished gift – when they see it all wrapped and ribboned their faces simply light up. I also get huge job satisfaction from giving my services to charities. This year I have worked with SCALP, So precious, and the Bridge of Allan stroke group. I am currently working with Strathcarron Hospice and the Local Fire Brigade in Stirling & Alloa on the Christmas toy appeal.


What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever been asked to wrap?
A walking umbrella with a traditional handle. And once someone asked for a whole house to have ribbon wrapped around it!


What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?
Without a doubt it has to be the memories that my parents created for my brother and I. They made Christmas so magical for us, from putting up the Christmas tree, old Christmas songs playing in the background, a box of chocolates open and of course the fire on!


How did you end up working with us at the Clan and Christmas shop?
It was actually a friend who suggested I should contact Historic Scotland and offer my gift wrapping services. To my delight they offered to meet me and I showed them some of my work. The rest is now history - excuse the pun! - and hopefully this will be the start of a great working relationship.


When they showed me the Clan and Christmas shop I was totally mesmerised. The first thing I could see was it reminded me of old Jenners in Edinburgh at Christmas. It is without a doubt the perfect Christmas shop and atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to working with the team, the staff are so lovely and friendly and the shop is so inviting I can’t wait to get started.



I will be at the castle’s Christmas Shopping Fayre on Tuesday 1st December and in the Clan and Christmas shop Wednesday 9th, 16th and 23rd December & Sunday 20th  December.


You can also have a look at my work on Facebook, Wrapistry by Cherene, or contact me on 07581216503.


All gifts are wrapped with warm hugs!


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Stirling Castle

Authors at the Castle

by StirlingCastle 24. November 2015 10:36
Last night Stirling Castle helped the Scottish Book Trust kick off by hosting an evening with Outlander author Diana Gabaldon and historian Neil Oliver.



Sitting at the head of the packed Great Hall, next to a Christmas tree and in front of the large fireplace, this was the perfect venue for an intimate chat between two extraordinary writers of historic fiction.


Right at the start Neil Oliver managed to capture our hearts when admitting that Stirling Castle is his favourite castle (although rumour has it he says that about every place he visits).


And Diana Gabaldon drew us in with her tales of her characters not only coming to life in her head, but on film.



As both of the authors’ novels are set in the past, an obvious question was how they manage to find the right balance between fact and fiction.

“You’re not trying to teach people with your novels, your trying to enthuse them about a time in history,” Neil Oliver said.

We captured Diana Gabaldon’s response on video:




One of the highlights of the evening was Neil Oliver announcing that he is more than halfway through writing his next book – the sequel to Master of Shadows - and hopes to have it published by September 2016!



At the end of the evening, the audience was able to pose their own questions which resulted in some fascinating answers. For example, did you know that Neil Oliver is especially intrigued by the Neolithic period, stone circles and the mysteries that surround them? That he doesn’t like to read feedback and comments about his work? Or that Diana Gabaldon’s children have never read her books nor watched the Outlander series?


It was a fantastic evening, and we’re sure the authors will agree that the Great Hall was the perfect location for this literary trip into the past.


Are you planning an event? Stirling Castle is a great venue for both small and large events, whether it’s a weddingmedieval banquet or corporate function. Get in touch to see how we can make your event a success.


Find out about all the other events taking place for Book Week Scotland on the Scottish Book Trust website.

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Ten Things about Mary

by StirlingCastle 16. November 2015 05:46
Born 500 years ago this week, Mary of Guise is chiefly remembered as the mother of Mary Queen of Scots. But this remarkable Frenchwoman played a prominent role in Scottish public life for well over 20 years, before her death at Edinburgh Castle.

Here are 10 facts you may not have known about her.

Mary knew Madeleine, daughter of King Francis I, and on 1 January 1537 attended her wedding to James V of Scotland. 
Madeleine died a few months later, when Mary had just been widowed. Francis swiftly suggested her as a second bride for James. 
Henry VIII – as James V’s powerful uncle he was also represented among the Stirling Heads

Eager to rupture this Scottish–French alliance, Henry proposed marriage to Mary himself. She declined, reportedly saying she had ‘a very little neck’ – a tart reference to Anne Boleyn, whom Henry had beheaded the previous year.

Her marriage to James V in May 1538 was carried out by proxy in Paris. The bride and groom were united in Fife and the union blessed at St Andrews Cathedral.

James V received 150,000 livres in the marriage contract. In return, Mary gained Stirling CastleThreave Castle, Dingwall Castle, Falkland Palace and several earldoms.

Mary Queen of Scots, the daughter Mary of Guise fought hard to protect.

From her two marriages, Mary had four sons and a daughter. Only the youngest, Mary Queen of Scots, grew to adulthood.

Based mainly at Stirling Castle, she spent the rest of her life defending the interests of her daughter, strengthening Scotland’s alliance with France. 

Henry VIII tried to arrange a marriage between his son Edward and the infant queen. Mary of Guise thwarted him, arranging her daughter’s marriage to the French heir to the throne. In 1548, she accompanied Mary to Dumbarton Castle for her departure to France, but remained in Scotland to look after business. From 1554, she was regent, officially governing Scotland on behalf of her daughter.
She brought French troops to help defend Scotland, and French engineers to improve defences at Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Leith.

John Knox was one of Mary of Guise’s fiercest critics.

The Protestant firebrand John Knox criticised female rulers in his famous treatise The Monstrous Regimen [rule] of Women (1558). His main targets were the Catholic Mary of Guise and Mary I of England.

Mary faced considerable opposition to her regency. By summer 1560, she had been undermined by Protestant rebels and effectively overthrown.

A plaque at Edinburgh Castle commemorates Mary of Guise, or Lorraine.

As her regime crumbled, Mary fell ill with painful swelling, probably caused by heart failure. This eventually affected her brain, robbing her of the power of speech.

A carved stone plaque commemorates her at Edinburgh Castle, where she died on 11 June 1560.

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* The Other Mary is at Edinburgh Castle on 21 & 22 November, 11.15am, 12.15pm, 2pm and 3pm. Book tickets here.

* An exhibition, also called The Other Mary, can be seen at Stirling Castle until 30 November.