Family trail

Follow the trail & enjoy 3 great royal residences!

> Mary of Guise Family Trail [pdf, 201kb]
Corneille de Lyon, Mary of Guise, 1515-1560. Queen of James V, Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Welcome to the Mary of Guise Family Trail

Corneille de Lyon, Mary of Guise, 1515-1560. Queen of James V, Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The Mary of Guise Family Trail is a chance to follow in the footsteps of a truly remarkable Renaissance woman – and see three of Scotland’s great historic attractions.

In December 1542 the sudden death of her husband, James V, left Mary a young, widowed single mother, in a foreign land with a week old-baby. Despite all this, she rose to become the ruler of Scotland.

An astonishing achievement in any era, but all the more so for a Frenchwoman in 16th-century Scotland – a male-dominated kingdom often torn by strife and violence.

Historic Scotland has created the trail to commemorate the 450th anniversary of Mary’s death and to recall a life that saw her become a key player in great events which shaped the nation.

At the same time we are looking ahead to next spring’s opening of the royal palace at Stirling Castle, which is being returned to how it may have looked when it was home to Mary of Guise and her infant daughter Mary, Queen of Scots.


The Trail

Our Family Trail takes you to three great royal residences in the care of Historic Scotland which are closely linked to Mary of Guise – French noblewoman, wife of King James V, Queen Regent of Scotland, mother of Mary, Queen of Scots and last defender of the Auld Alliance.

These were places where she held court, entertained, raised her daughter and made great political decisions, the effects of which are still with us today.

  • Stirling Castle – main residence of Mary of Guise and her young daughter
  • Linlithgow Palace – birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots
  • Edinburgh Castle – where Mary of Guise spent her final weeks


Mary of Guise died in June 1560, and while she is often overshadowed by the fame of her daughter, she had an enormous effect on Scotland. She was among the most important figures in the closing phases of the struggle to decide whether the kingdom would remain Catholic, and closely linked to France, or would become Protestant and ally itself with England. These were decisions which shaped the Scotland we know today.

Our trail starts at Stirling and goes to Edinburgh via Linlithgow – a journey that Mary of Guise herself often took, but naturally you can do it in whatever order you wish.

Follow the Mary of Guise Family Trail [pdf, 201kb]

You can save money on ticket prices by becoming a member of Historic Scotland.



Further Information