Scotland is old. You just won’t believe how mind-boggingly old it is. You might think the place you live in is old, but have you ever walked through a graveyard older than the United States of America? And the thing is you just get used to it, my primary school has been around since the 1800s. Oh I’m just talking the dog for a walk around the ruins of a fort built by the Romans 2000 years ago. So you thought this was just a nice river you stopped at. Nope some important battle happened here 400 years ago. I think its safe to say that this little country has a lot of history in it.
Two agencies were charged with looking after all that Scottish history. First we have Historic Scotland which is responsible for all of the country’s historic monuments. Then you have the National Trust for Scotland which owns or manages cultural and heritage properties. If you want to look at it another way Historic Scotland is the fun uncle that teaches you how to stuff an entire Mars bar into your face. National Trust for Scotland is that aunt who smells a bit funny and you never see unless someone has died.
Now here is the thing, if you really want to experience Scotland you have to be a part of it. Don’t just stand back and watch. And that is why I recommend you leave that list of National Trust places at home and you visit the castles. Imagine you’re helping defend Edinburgh Castle from the invading Jacobites. Climb to the top of Doune Castle and shout at the unsuspecting tourists below about how their “mother was a hamster and their father smelt of elderberries”. Walk around Culloden and imagine what it would have been like that day. If you want to go visit some National Trust homes, sure do that too. Marvel at the indoor plumbing and comment on how these 200 year old homes really aren’t all that different from what we have now.
But if you really want to visit Scotland, take part, make some memories that will last you a lifetime. If you need to go buy a foam sword from the gift shop, do that too. But if you want to look at toilets then you might be better off staying at home.