Summer visitors flock to heritage sites

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ALMOST 4,000 more visitors took in Historic Scotland’s paid-entry sites in the Borders this summer than the previous year.

At Hermitage Castle the number of visitors rose by almost a quarter, to 3,314, while at Jedburgh Abbey there was a 12 per cent increase, up to 11,770.

The most popular local attraction was Melrose Abbey with 26,747 visitors, a rise of seven per cent last summer.

Of the other ticketed sites Dryburgh Abbey had 11,261 visitors, up two per cent, while Smailholm Tower was the only one to report a drop in visitors, down three per cent to 2,350.

Stephen Duncan, director of commercial and tourism for Historic Scotland, said: “Last year saw a flattening out of visitors due to a combination of severe weather and displacement of the travel trade.

“We had always expected 2013 to see a return to previous levels, but the summer performance has surpassed all expectations. We’ve broken a number of records, including the highest visitor numbers for July and August on record for Edinburgh Castle.”

Cabinet secretary for culture, Fiona Hyslop, said: “As the custodians of Scotland’s rich heritage, it is important that we continue to engage with both Scots and visitors from around the world as we look forward to Scotland welcoming the world in 2014.”