Bass Rock Castle

Bass Rock Castle, East Lothian


Bass Rock,

Firth of Forth


Off A198


EH39 5PN

The Bass Rock is a volcanic crag in the Firth of Forth that towers over three hundred feet above the sea.  It was originally used as a retreat for Christians and was the home of Saint Baldred.

The castle occupied a flat terrace overlooking the only landing point.

It is visible from Tantallon Castle.

A lighthouse was built within the former castle enclosure in 1902. T

oday the island is uninhabited but is home to a large colony of gannets.

~ History ~

756 ~ St Baldred dies in his chapel on Bass Rock.

1318 ~ Bass Rock becomes thes property of the Lauder family.

1406 ~ King Robert II sends his son James (later James I), to Bass Rock Castle to ensure his safety.

1424 ~ King James I sends his uncle, Walter Stewart, Earl of Atholl, to the castle as his prisoner.

1428 ~ Neil Mackay is incarcerated in teh castle to ensure good behaviour of his rebellious father.

1437 ~ Neil Mackay escapes from Bass Rock to become chief of Clan Mackay.

1497 ~ The Lauder's welcome King James IV to their castle on The Bass.

1548 ~ The English fail in their attempt to capture the castle. They return the following year and are again repelled.

1559 ~ Mary, Queen of Scots, installs a garrison of a hundred men to garrison the castle from further attack by the English and secure control of teh Firth of Forth.

1567 ~ Robert Lauder of Bass Rock supports Mary Queen of Scots at the Battle of Carberry Hill, but she is defeated.

1581 ~  King James VI visits the castle

1652 ~ The castle is used to harry Oliver Cromwell's supply shipsby Sir Patrick Hepburn, a Covenanter during the turbulent years of the Wars of Three Kingdoms.

He uses the site to bombard English supply ships heading into Leith following the English invasion of southern Scotland after the Battle of Dunbar. The garrison are duly besieged and eventually starved into surrender.

1671 ~ The Bass is sold to the Government and used as a prison for political and religious prisoners.

1686 ~ John Blackadder, a leading Covenanter, dies on Bass Rock  during the reign of the Catholic King James VII.

1691 ~ Four imprisoned Jacobite officers capture Bass Rock, and hold it for the exiled King James VII for near three years.

1701 ~ The castle is dismantled.

1706 ~ The Bass is held by the Dalrymples of North Berwick.

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