Interiors

By making your way inside a historic building, you can open the door to Scotland’s past.

From ornate ceilings and fireplaces, to windows, doors and floors – the interiors of our buildings help us to piece together the story of Scotland’s people and places. Interiors evolve over time, and show us different layers of history. They reflect how tastes have changed over the centuries, and they give us endless opportunities to enjoy exquisite craftsmanship and design.

Why are interiors important?

Studying the interiors of our buildings has transformed what we know about the people who have lived and worked in Scotland. And not just the lairds who owned castles and collected fine art, but also simple rural families making do with tiny spaces. Interiors have shaped our understanding of Scottish design, architecture, culture and society through the ages, and across the country.

How do we approach our work on interiors? 

We always thinks of our buildings as a whole, so the way we interpret the inside of our buildings is affected by what we know about the outside, and vice versa. Similarly, the way we manage our interiors is tied to the way we manage our exteriors, because what affects the outside of a building will also affect the inside. It’s all part of the same story.

Interiors and collections

We strongly believe that the best way to appreciate a collection is in its original setting, and where there’s an interesting interior, there’s often a collection of objects or an archive to go with it. In fact, they’re such close companions that people often ask us what the difference is between the two.

Put simply: if you can move it, it’s a collection. So, art works, archives, objets d’arts, furniture and photographs all fall under the collections category. However, if something is a part of a room setting or built into the building’s structure – say a staircase or some intricate plasterwork – then we file it under interiors.

Highlights

Here are some of our favourite interiors in the National Trust for Scotland’s care. There’s an incredible variety of places to see, in every corner of the country.

The Blue Sitting Room, Brodie Castle, Moray

The Blue Sitting Room, Brodie Castle, Moray

When you enter the famous blue sitting room in this 16th-century castle, make sure you look up. On the ceiling you’ll find an astonishing example of late 17th-century plasterwork, which carries the initials of Alexander Brodie and his wife Elizabeth Innes. Elizabeth died just five years after they were married.

The Bedroom, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway

The Bedroom, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway

Our National Bard had the humblest of beginnings, sleeping with his three siblings in a tiny box bedroom. The stark, stone-floored room takes visitors back to where it all began for Robert Burns, and provides some all-important context to help us understand and appreciate the work of Scotland’s most beloved poet.

The Gallery, Broughton House, Kirkcudbright

The Gallery, Broughton House, Kirkcudbright

In the house where E A Hornel lived and worked in the early 1900s, you can see some of his most important works in their original setting – a spectacular mahogany-panelled gallery, complete with glass ceiling. It's a perfect example of how our interiors and collections can work as one.

The Dining Room, Brodick Castle, Arran

The Dining Room, Brodick Castle, Arran

Throughout this island castle, dark wood and heavy Victorian colours hark back to an age of aristocratic leisure and luxury. The dining room displays some of the castle’s fine collection of silver, porcelain and paintings, but it’s also a work of art in itself, with intricate carved wood panelling and plasterwork ceilings of breathtaking detail and artistry.

The Chapel, Falkland Palace, Falkland

The Chapel, Falkland Palace, Falkland

The Chapel Royal at Mary, Queen of Scots’ beloved Falkland Palace is as close to a pre-Reformation chapel as you’re likely to find in Scotland. Mass is still said here every Sunday, among the dramatic 16th- and 17th-century oak screens, painted ceilings and stunning tapestries.