Scotlands History

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Mary Queen of Scots lived at the Palace of Holyroodhouse for only a few years. They were to be some of the most dramatic years in Scottish history.

At the end of the 15th century, James IV had ordered a palace at Holyrood to replace an existing royal guesthouse by the Abbey. Mary’s father, James V, built a massive tower and had rooms within the palace lavishly furnished for his French wives.

When Mary Queen of Scots arrived at the palace in 1561 she chose to stay in the apartments where her mother, Marie de Guise, had lived. Between 1561 and 1567 Mary entertained dignitaries, held masques, loved and suffered in the palace. She met John Knox in a series of confrontational audiences. She married first Lord Darnley then Bothwell at Holyroodhouse. Her private secretary, David Rizzio, was brutally murdered there and Mary’s life was threatened.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence in Scotland of Her Majesty the Queen.

Visitors, including school groups, can tour the rooms where Mary Queen of Scots lived including her bedchamber and the tiny supper room where Rizzio was dragged away to his death. The Palace has an education team, education room and learning programmes for pre-schools, primary and secondary school groups.

  • photograph of the bedroom of Mary, Queen of Scots
  • photograph of the outside of Holyrood Palace

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Listen to Rory Dall's Port, a piece of clàrsach music published in the 18th century, but probably written much earlier and adapted. The tune became famous when it was used by Robert Burns as the original tune of 'Ae Fond Kiss'.