Angus has led the way in a spectacular summer at Scotland’s historic sites where visitor numbers have rocketed by as much as a quarter.
Ancient Arbroath Abbey and the nearby village of St Vigeans with its collection of Pictish stones were the stars of the 2017 Historic Environment Scotland season as the organisation saw records broken across the country.
At the sandstone Abbey where the iconic Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320 there was an 18% upturn in visitor figures between April to September.
St Vigeans, with its museum and collection of stones was an even better performer in the HES portfolio, witnessing a 25% increase in footfall for the same period.
Across the country as a whole, HES welcomed more than 3.8 million visitors during the period – an overall 20% increase in footfall on the same period last year to make it the busiest season on record.
August alone saw in excess of 870,000 visitors flocking to Scotland’s historic sites – the busiest individual month ever recorded.
HES manage more than 70 ticketed Historic Scotland visitor attractions throughout the country, including Edinburgh Castle, Iona Abbey and Fort George.
The announcement came as Scotland celebrates Heritage Awareness Day, the first-ever day dedicated to showcasing the nation’s rich and diverse heritage and encouraging individuals, organisations and communities to share and celebrate it in all its different forms.
HES chief executive Alex Paterson said: “We’ve responded to the increasing interest in Scotland’s historic environment by extending opening at seasonal sites across the country throughout October, giving people further opportunity to explore the wealth of history that Scotland has to offer and to uncover the hidden historical gems on their doorstep during the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.
“From Edinburgh Castle to Skara Brae, historic sites across Scotland are continuing to draw record numbers of visitors, which is further demonstration of the value of Scotland’s historic places within the country’s wider tourism offering.”
Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: “Congratulations to Historic Environment Scotland on another great seasonal performance. “As today’s numbers confirm, Scotland’s historic environment is acting more and more as a magnet for tourists, attracting millions of people from far and wide each year to our world-class attractions.”