We dive into what it’s like to take a tour with our head guide Malcolm McVitie.

Malcolm Mcvitie is the castle’s head guide and has worked at Thirlestane Castle for seven seasons. We took some time to chat to him about his love of giving tours and what visitors can expect.

Q1: What can people expect when they take a guided tour?
A1: “On a guided tour people can expect access to the guide’s knowledge and an opportunity to ask questions.”

Q2: What questions do people ask the most?
A2: “They tend to ask questions about the family such as where’s the present earl? That question is answered in the dining room.  Another question is “are there any ghosts?” I tell them no. I don’t believe in ghosts anyway. No dreadful acts have happened here either. It’s pretty much scandal free.”

Q3: What’s your favourite part of the tour?
A3: “I enjoy talking about snooker in the billiards room because I played on the table where snooker was invented.  Also, the 17th Century Dunsterfield plaster ceilings – I’ve seen them day after day; year after year and they still absolutely amaze me.”

Q4: What do visitors seem to enjoy most about the tour?
A4: “One thing I notice is that when you walk from the duke’s dressing room into his bedroom very few people look up right away. But when they eventually do, they reach a point and literally say ‘wow!’ And certainly everytime I go through the door from the duke’s bedroom to the large drawing room you hear: “Wow! Gosh!”  They obviously find the state rooms the most stunning of all and that’s basically because of the  plaster ceilings.”

Q5: What do you like best about being a guide?

A5: I like meeting people and helping them to enjoy the history of the castle. That’s probably it.
“It’s a point well worth making that every tour is slightly different and that’s down to the individual guide’s personal knowledge and experience.”

Thank you for your time, Malcolm.

During the open season (May – September) guided tours are available six days a week, and throughout the year private tours are available by prior arrangement, subject to availability. For more information see out Visit page.