Edinburgh Castle

An old rifle discovered last year by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) staff on a north east nature reserve has just been identified as a French rifle from the 1800s. Staff from the National War Museum in Edinburgh have confirmed what it is, but the mystery still remains as to how it got there.

The skirl of bagpipes on the Royal Mile may be a familar sound, but for the first time in recent years a lone bagpiper is welcoming visitors to Edinburgh Castle as it opens each day.

The piper, in full Highland dress, will be playing daily throughout the Summer season as Edinburgh Castle's great wooden entrance gates draw open at 9.30am and visitors flow in across the drawbridge.

Historic Scotland is to run a 3-week pilot scheme in July to assess new traffic reduction measures for the approaches to Edinburgh Castle. The organisation is keen to make the esplanade and surrounding area more attractive and less-congested by halving coach traffic.

Historic Scotland is offering a credit-crunch special for families, "Make Your Own History", whereby people get six months free membership when they buy 12 months. This means a family will pay just £6.16 a month for free access to over 70 properties run by Historic Scotland.

The membership includes access to some of Scotland's top tourist destinations including Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle, Linlithgow Palace and Skara Brae on Orkney.

Edinburgh attractions didn't experience the same upward trend in visitor numbers enjoyed by other parts of the country in 2008 according to a report by the Association of Leading Visitor Attraction

Historic Scotland's flagship attraction Edinburgh Castle has welcomed its one millionth visitor through the door for the current financial year (1st April 2008 to 31st March 2009).

For the month of October, Historic Scotland is waiving kids' admission fees for its 70 attractions across Scotland, including Edinburgh Castle and eight other ancient sites in Edinburgh and Lothians. Entry to Edinburgh Castle for 5 to 15 year-olds is usually £6, for 16-59 year-olds £12 and £9.50 for concessions.

It might be surprising that Scotland's most visited, paying tourist attraction, with 1.2 million visitors a year, did not have its own web site up until last month.