Free illustrated talks on Scottish and Edinburgh history

Learn more about the fascinating history of Scotland and its capital at these illustrated talks.

NOTE: Because of the current Covid-19 restrictions, these talks will take place via Zoom.

During the 2021 Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe (6th August - 30th August), we will again be offering a programme of free talks on the fascinating history of Scotland and Edinburgh.

These talks complement our highly-praised Royal Mile tours. They will be given by expert speakers via Zoom so you can watch from the comfort of your own home anywhere in the world.

More information:


Our 2021 programme of talks is as follows:

Did the Signing of the National Covenant in Greyfriars in 1638 do any good for Scotland, Christianity and the World?  

This talk will be given by the Reverend Dr Richard Frazer, Minister at Greyfriars Kirk.  He'll explore the implications and wider consequences of the National Covenant which was presented in Greyfriars Kirk and signed in front of the pulpit.

Richard Frazer has been minister at Greyfriars Kirk since 2003, at which time he also became a Trustee of the Grassmarket Mission. He is Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council and Chairman of the Grassmarket Community Project.  Richard Frazer grew up chiefly in Edinburgh but also spent time at school in Yorkshire. He is a graduate of Newcastle and Edinburgh Universities and Princeton Theological Seminary in the United States. 

The Battlefield Leaders and Military Achievements of the Jacobites, particularly at the Battles of Prestonpans, Falkirk & Culloden.  

This talk will be given by Dr Arran Johnston and will mainly focus on the leadership during three Jacobite battles - the Battle of Prestonpans, the Battle of Falkirk and finally the Battle of Culloden, which took place in April 1746 and was the last battle to be fought on British soil.  He will also look at the current contentious issue of modern development of our historic battlefield sites.

Dr Arran Johnston was born in Derbyshire and graduated from Edinburgh University. The author of a number of books and articles mainly on Scottish history, he is Director of the Scottish Battlefields Trust and is passionate about protecting iconic Scottish battlefields against intensive development.

Recent Research and Renovations of Gladstone's Land.

Gladstone's Land is a traditional 17th century tenement situated near the top of the Royal Mile on the Lawnmarket in the Old Town of Edinburgh.   It has been under the care of the National Trust for Scotland since the 1930s and recently underwent a £1.4 million transformation.  In May of this year it reopened to the public and gives a glimpse into the lives of some of its former residents over the centuries. In her talk, Dr Kate Stephenson, Visitor Services Manager, will discuss the recent renovations and share what their research uncovered during the process. 

Dr Kate Stephenson has worked for the National Trust for Scotland since 2018.  She is a graduate of St Andrews University and York University where after gaining her PHD she worked as a Course Leader.  She is the author of the 2019 publication 'Uniform: Clothing and Discipline in the Modern World.'