Mary, Queen of Scots, was one of the most fascinating, romantic, and tragic figures in Britain's history. Her life was an enigma. As Queen of both Scotland and France, Mary became involved in plots and counterplots, intrigue, murder, and nighttime bids for freedom accruing from the bitter hostility between Roman Catholics and Protestants. Four-hundred years ago, arrayed in black velvet and bearing herself as befits a queen, she was beheaded in Fotheringay Castle. Her death warrant was signed by no less a person than her own cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England. With one stroke of her pen, Elizabeth was rid of a woman she considered one of her greatest enemies.
Mary's life story, however, continues to fascinate historians and ordinary folk to this day. Throughout this anniversary year, Scotland will be staging tours, exhibitions, pageants, lectures, and a host of other activities to commemorate one of the most intriguing women in history. All year - Historic Buildings & Monuments cares for more than 30 historic sites associated with Mary - including Linlithgow Palace, Edinburgh Castle, and Border Abbeys. The ``Mary Guide Book'' will help visitors find their way on the Scotland-wide ``Mary Trail.'' All year. At Haggs Castle in Glasgow, there will be children's entertainment and participation on the theme of the life of Mary. Through September. In Mary's bedroom in Earlshall Castle near Leuchars is an exhibition of relics connected with Mary and her reign. Through September. At Lennoxlove House in Haddington is a display of Mary, Queen of Scots, artifacts. Until Sept. 3. In Edinburgh at the National Library of Scotland, there will be an exhibition entitled ``It cam wi' a lass,'' which explores the Stuart family in literature, legend, and the arts. June-August. Jedburgh Festival, with events related to Mary. July 9-Oct. 4. Authentic portraits and historic paintings on view at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. July 9-Oct. 4. Display of artifacts such as jewelry and furnishings associated with Mary at the Royal Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. July 25-26 and Aug. 1-2, 8-9. Costume pageant in Earlshall Castle, Leuchars, and St. Andrews, commemorating Mary's visit in 1561. Aug. 15-23. Linlithgow Festival at Linlithgow Palace, with jousting, medieval banquets, and entertainment. Aug. 22. ``Marymass'' celebrations in Cunninghame, featuring a parade, crowning of Queen, and Carter's races and fair (part of a two-week celebration). Sept. 5-8. Stirling Festival (at Stirling Castle, where Mary spent much of her childhood) includes a play on the life of Mary, and coronation themes and pageants.
Visitors are advised to check dates before traveling to events.