Tantallon Castle, East Lothian

Tantallon Castle, East Lothian, Scotland

This evening, I am focusing on Tantallon Castle which occupies a prominent cliff-side position in East Lothian ( S.E.of Edinburgh). In it’s hey day the castle was strategically located at the centre of the Baronry of North Berwick and benefited from a cove immediately to the north of the castle which provided a route for supplies to be brought in.

Tantallon Castle and Dovecot, East Lothian

Tantallon Castle and Dovecot, East Lothian, Scotland

Tantallon had a 300 year life span as a military fortification and power base. This period started around 1350 when constructed by William, 1st Earl of Douglas. In 1491 the castle, then under control of Archibald the 5th Earl, subject of a siege by King James IV but this appears to have ended amicably. In 1528 the young King James V laid siege in retribution for his being held effective prisoner by the 5th Earl but the castle’s defences proved too strong and the King eventually withdrew. In 1529 the King gained control of the castle by negotiation and proceeded to strengthen its defences. The final military action occurred in 1650 when attacked and effectively destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s army.

Inner Close, Tantallon Castle

Inner Close, Tantallon Castle, Scotland

The main aspects of the castle building are:

  • Red stone curtain wall and towers.
  • Mid tower or great castle gatehouse.
  • Inner close  (behind the curtain wall).
  • East Tower, originally five stories high.
  • The Douglas Tower, once extending to seven stories ( 100ft) in height.
  • The Hall Block including the Great Hall.
  • Battlements.

This castle had a relatively short life of just 300 years but during that time witnessed violent upheavals and three sieges. The ruins today are substantial and provide a useful insight into the scale of this once might fortress.

Tantallon is definitely worth a visit when in the area.