click here for list and details of Top 40 Castles and Abbeys

One of the first things a visitor from the so-called "New World" has to get their head round is the period of time over which Scottish history stretches. For instance, it is possible to visit historical sights and develop an understanding of what life was like in this country 5000 years ago.

For instance where else could you enter a tomb built before the pyramids and burgled by Vikings? Or investigate the scene where a king stabbed an earl to death?

There is a lot to see and do when visiting a Historic Scotland property. Discover the glittering Crown Jewels exhibition and the Stone of Destiny at Edinburgh Castle and enjoy the panoramic views over the Scottish capital. See the hustle and bustle of a medieval kitchen brought to life at Stirling Castle and visit the exhibitions on the castle's history and life in the royal palace.

If you chose to visit Caerlaverock Castle near Dumfries you will see one of Scotland's finest castles. This moated castle was the scene of two famous sieges and has a children's venture park, model siege engine and a nature trail in its grounds.

One of Scotland's less visited castles, and really should not be missed, is Dumbarton Castle which is spectacularly sited on a volcanic rock overlooking the River Clyde. It was from here that Mary Queen of Scots sailed to France as a child.

Scotland has many abbeys that trace the country's sometimes bloody religious history.Visit Dundrennan Abbey near Kirkcudbright. This abbey, which was built in the second half of the 12th century, was where Mary Queen of Scots spent her last night on Scottish soil.

The site of the first Christian church in Scotland at Whithorn in Wigtonshire. It was founded by St Ninian in the 5th century and later became the cathedral church of Galloway.

Wherever you are in Scotland you are never far away from a historical site a visit to which will help you better understand the country and its people.

click here for list and details of Top 40 Castles and Abbeys

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