Tantallon Castle is only a few miles from our home in North Berwick. You can even see North Berwick Law from it.
It was the headquarters of the Douglas family. William Duke of Douglas built the castle in the 1350s and they remained occupants until the 16th century when Archibald Douglas was charged with treason. It then passed to the Earldom of Angus.
The outer gate used to have double wooden doors which by the 1500s was the main route into the castle
and the Tower built in 1520s.
Tantallon was besieged three times:
- By James IV in 1491
- James V in 1528
- Oliver Cromwell in 1651 who also captured nearby Dirleton Castle as well.
The castle was abandoned after this last attack. The Dalrymples bought it as a romantic ruin in 1699. It was taken over by the ministry of works in 1924. The castle is now under the care of Historic Scotland. At the moment access is only to the outside grounds. During the pandemic a backlog of safety inspections and work compiled and is now being carried out. Until this is complete there is not access to the inside of many buildings. We wandered around the outside which gives views to the bays on either side and to the Bass Rock.
The Doocot sits in the grounds and used to house thousands of pigeons to provide meat and eggs to the residents. The birds entered via the roof and the door was kept locked to prevent poachers gaining access.
The grounds are spacious
and there are picnic tables near the entrance. It is only a short distance from the Drift Cafe as well.