Doors Open Days 2021 - highlights from across Scotland

18 August 2021
Clackmannan Tower
With the annual Doors Open Days 2021 festival just weeks away, History Scotland presents a pick of sites to explore in each of the festival regions.

Doors Open Days returns for another year of exploring buildings and historic sites, many of which are not usually open to the public. This year's festival is a hybrid event, with both on-site and online events to choose from.

As always, the festival runs across four weekends, with a programme of events featuring buildings around Scotland.

To mark the festival, we've picked a site or event for each of the regions covered. Please note that pre-booking is required for the majority of events - check individual listings below for details.


Balintore Castle, 11-12 September

Balintore Castle is an A-listed 1860's shooting lodge in the Scottish Baronial style designed by William Burn. Visit the castle during Doors Open Days 2021 to see this historical building and find out more about its history.



Skelmorlie Secret Bunker, 11-12 September

Fully restored Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post, part of a UK wide chain operational until 1991.  Designed for a crew of three, it would have been used to detect and report on the effects of a nuclear attack during the Cold War.


Clackmannan Tower, 25 September

Clackmannan Tower (pictured) dates from c1360 and was built by the Bruce family. In the 15th century the building was raised to its current height and the taller south wing was constructed. A new mansion was built to the west of the tower in the late 16th century and in the 17th century further changes were made to the tower.

Dumfries and Galloway

Barholm Castle, 4 and 5 September

Barholm Castle is a traditional Scottish tower house which may have been constructed in several stages and consists of a rectangular tower with its earliest origins probably dating from the late 15th century.


East Lothian

MacArthur's Store, 25-26 September

McArthur’s Store is owned by Dunbar Harbour Trust and is at Cromwell Harbour in Dunbar, East Lothian. It is a rare example of an early 17c harbour warehouse and one of the oldest surviving in Scotland. 


Quaker Meeting House, 25 September

Edinburgh's Quaker Meeting House was built as the Original Secession Church in 1865, part of the Victoria Street development. It has been in Quaker hands since 1989. 


Law's Close, 12 September

The building dates from the 1500s and is considered to be one of the finest surviving examples of a house of this type.


Arlington Baths Club, 18-19 September

The Arlington Baths Club is the oldest member-run swimming pool in Europe. The 'A' listed building houses a skylit swimming pool and a magnificent Turkish Bath. 


John O'Groats mill, 18 September

Not normally open to the public, the John O Groats Mill is almost certainly the last water powered grain mill to be built in Scotland. Passed down through many generations of the Houston family, it was still in use fifty years after all other Caithness Mills. 


Mavisbank House, 11 September

This historic building was constructed in the 1720s and is one of Scotland's earliest examples of a Palladian style villa. Today the house is a ruin. Come and learn of its history and importance. 

Perth & Kinross

Archaeological walking tour, 18-19 September

Take a walk back in time following the medieval burgh defences and industries along the course of the lade downstream from the Lower City Mills. 


Wallneuk North Church, 4 September

Build by the Abercrombie on land which was in the corner (neuk)of the garden of the Abbott of Paisley, Paisley North. Church opened in 1915 with Britain at war. 

Scottish Borders

The Borders Distillery, 4-5 September

The first Scotch Whisky distillery in the Scottish Borders since 1837 - an award-winning conversion of Hawick's Edwardian electrical works. 


The Old Haa Museum, 25-26 September

For Doors Open Days, visitors can enjoy newly digitised photos and sound archive available in Natural History room on first floor (curated by Karl Graham). You can also catch the History exhibition, which holds the History of Halls in Yel


Holy Trinity Scottish Episcopal Church, 19 September

Holy Trinity, Stirling, dating from the late 1878 is a Category A Listed church. Converted by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson in 1921 to commemorate the fallen of World War 1, the building and it's interior are in near original condition.

West Dunbartonshire

River Leven walk, 11 September

This trail covers a wide range of history of Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven. Bridges, glass production, textile industries such as Turkey Red, Robert the Bruce's retirement home and other surprises.

West Lothian

Uphall South Parish Church, 11 September

The land on which the church stands was sold in 1894 by Sir John Pender GCMG. of Middleton Hall to Broxburn Free Church to build a Mission Hall in Uphall. 

Explore the full programme at Doors Open Days. Above text courtesy of Doors Open Days.

(images Barholm Castle copyright J D Brennan, Clackmannan Tower copyright PaulT, Mavisbank House copyright Tom Parnell Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license;