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Scotland’s best World heritage sites

Scotland’s best World heritage sites - feature photo

When we think of Scottish history, it’s easy to let our minds wander to images of Mel Gibson as the heroic William Wallace, fighting for Scotland’s freedom from the cruel English leader Edward the Longshanks. While this is an important stitch in the fabric of Scotland’s past, there are deeper layers to Scotland’s heritage.

Scotland’s history is evident as soon as touch down – you can see it in the music, the traditions of the people and the landmarks that dot the landscape. But for real history buffs and cultural pilgrims, it will be Scotland’s world heritage listed sites that are the main attraction.

Scotland has 5 sites that are recognised and supported by UNESCO. So if you want to get to the roots of Scotland’s past, check out of Glasgow airport hotels and add these destinations to your itinerary.

The Heart of Neolithic Orkney

The heart of Neolithic Orkney is a concentration of monuments in the area surrounding the Ness of Brodgar – the area of the West Mainland. The area was used in the ceremonies of the Neolithic people of Orkney. This area of the Orkney Mainland was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. The archaeological remains include the major sites Maeshowe, The Ring o’Brodgar and the Stones of Stennes. The area is rich in archaeology and under the World Heritage protection are a multitude of unexcavated sites.

St. Kilda

The archipelago of St Kilda is the remotest part of the British Isles and lies 41 miles (66 kilometres) west of Benbecula in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. The islands are protected under UNESCO for their unrivalled natural heritage. With soaring cliffs and teetering sea stacks, the islands are the most important breeding nation in north-west Europe. This unique archipelago became listed in 1986 for its natural qualities.

Edinburgh Old and New Towns

In 1996, both Edinburgh’s old and new towns were listed as world heritage sites. Old Town includes the medieval Royal Mile which stretches from the beautiful Edinburgh Castle down to the Palace of Holroodhouse. The ‘New Town’ refers to the area to the north which is home to neo-classical 18th century areas including Princes Street.

New Lanark

Relatively new to Scotland’s UNESCO World Heritage listings, New Lanark is located in South Lanarkshire, and the product of an experiment in utopian socialism by Robert Owen. The industrial cotton mill was restored by the New Lanark Conservation Trust in 1974.

The Antonine Wall

The Antoine Wall is one of the UK’s most important Roman remains. The Antonine Wall stretches for nearly 60 km (40 Roman miles) from Bo’ness on the River Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde. In 2008 the Wall was the fifth site to be inscribed by UNESCO. The Antonine Wall is now recognised as an extension of the trans-national Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site (which already includes Hadrien’s Wall and the Upper Raetian German Lines).

Whether you’re interested in historical or cultural tourism, Scotland’s UNESCO listed sites cater to a range of tourist tastes. So if you’re visiting Scotland, pick up a hire car from Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness airport parking and head off to discover Scotland’s varied and rich past.