Learn about the life of Mary Queen of Scots from your own home

20 November 2020
Discover intriguing facts about the life of Mary Queen of Scots without leaving the house, with History Scotland’s online learning suggestions.

The year 2020 has seen libraries, archives, societies and education institutions forced to close their doors or restrict access because of the Covid-19 virus. However, it’s still possible to discover facts about the life of Mary Queen of Scots online. 

Read on for our suggestions for history learning, whatever format you prefer.


Blairs Museum

Mary Queen of Scots features in several of the online learning resources on the website of  Blairs Museum, Aberdeen. Here you can find a Mary timeline, study artefacts connected with Mary’s life (including the Blairs Jewel) and enjoy of a virtual tour of the museum’s historic chapel.

Future Learn

At the time of writing, Mary’s life was part of the Early Modern aspect of the free Future Learn course ‘Scottish history through handwriting’. The three-week course has a recommended study time of three hours per week. Find out more here.

History Scotland website

History Scotland’s website has its own dedicated Mary Queen of Scots section here  where you can explore topics including:

  • Where was Mary born?
  • Who were the husbands of Mary Queen of Scots?
  • Where was Mary imprisoned?

Plus we have Mary news, travel guides and a timeline.

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Royal Collection Trust has a number of Mary-themed or related videos and you can explore these on their YouTube channel


For an informative overview of Mary’s life see the Mary Queen of Scots entry in the hall of fame at National Records of Scotland here which has links to people and places connected with Mary’s life. 

Mary’s life has, of course, inspired countless authors over the centuries, in both fiction and non-fiction works. We’ve rounded up our recommended reads here

Of course, many of the classic texts that have been written over the years are now out of print, so try places such as Abe Books and second-hand bookshops for older gems. Project Gutenberg is another good place to try.


The Mary Queen of Scots hall of fame entry on the National Records of Scotland website includes a gallery page of documents relating to the Stewart queen’s life, including an inventory of her books, her earliest surviving letter and a letter written by her first husband Francis about his happiness following their marriage. 

Marvel at some of the finest portraits of Mary in the collections of National Galleries Scotland here

Royal Collection Trust also has paintings, artefacts and documents that you can enjoy online here


BBC Radio 4 published In Our Time: Mary Queen of Scots, featuring a discussion between Melvyn Bragg and guests about how Mary might have united the Scottish, English and French thrones had events played out a little differently.

You can download the 50-minute podcast here


An evening with Mary Queen of Scots. History Scotland is hosting a Zoom talk delivered by Dr Anna Groundwater, an authority on Mary's life. Find out more here.