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Festival of Mary Queen of Scots revealed

In September, there is to be a festival held in Kinross from the 2nd to 3rd to celebrate the life of Mary Queen of Scots. The Queen, who was forced to abdicate in favour of her then-infant son, James VI, escaped from Lochleven Castle on 2 May 1568.

The announcement was made on Tuesday, the anniversary of her escape; Queen Mary was held in captivity for two years before making her daring escape dressed as a servant girl. She surrendered at the Battle of Carberry Hill, near Musselburgh, in June 1567. Her abdication was forced a month later.

During her time in captivity, Mary was ill and bedridden most of the time. Her husband, the Earl of Bothwell, was exiled after the East Lothian battle. It was said that she either gave birth to two stillborn twins who are buried on the property or to a daughter who was smuggled to France to live out her days in a convent.

All was not lost for Mary’s hope to escape. Oddly enough, she was assisted by the son of her enemy, Margaret Erskine, or Lady Douglas; Willie Douglas received permission to hold May Day celebrations at the castle, and after getting everyone drunk as he played the role of the Abbot of Unreason, he nailed the castle boats to the shore. After Mary’s escape, Willie locked the castle gates and threw the keys into a cannon.

Mary raised an army which was defeated. She then fled to England and sought protection from her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. The Queen initially welcomed her cousin, but this changed after she found out that Mary was behind English Catholic and Spanish plots to overthrow her. Subsequently, Mary was placed under house arrest.

In 1586, a plot to murder Queen Elizabeth was uncovered. Mary was put on trial for ‘complicity,’ found guilty and sentenced to death. She was beheaded for treason on 8 February 1587 at Fotheringhay Castle in England.

Mary’s son, then James VI of Scotland, accepted the news of his mother’s death. When Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, he became James I, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

The site of the Mary Queen of Scots Festival will be the town’s Market Square, located less than two miles from the castle. It will be turned into a 16th-century encampment by the Clanranald Trust. This group of historians is responsible for their work on historically-based Hollywood films such as Gladiator and the very popular television series, Outlander.

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