Tantallon Castle, Lothian
3 miles North Berwick
Tantallon stands on a cliff top that thrusts out into the Firth of Forth, spectacular in setting and still majestic in decay. With sheer 100 foot cliffs and sea on three sides, the castle's landward side is protected by a formidable array of ditches and red sandstone walls up to 12 feet thick and a staggering 50 feet tall. In its day one the strongest castles in all Scotland.
Access to the castle is a short stroll from the car park. Make sure you take the time to walk to the cliff edge view of the castle and breathtaking views including the Bass Rock
~ History ~
1290's - Earliest known fortress built on the rock.
1370's - William, 1st Earl of Douglas makes Tantallon his family seat with his mistress the Countess of Angus. Building of the castle commences.
1401 - The 2nd Earl of Douglas dies. Somehow the castle remains in the hands of the Countess' bastard son George Douglas, who becomes the 1st Earl of Angus, the first of the Red Douglases. He marries Mary, Robert II's daughter.
1419 - King James I is made prisoner in England. Murdoch Stuart is made Regent of Scotland in his place.
1425 - James I returns to Scotland and has Murdoch arrested and executed. His wife, Isabella is imprisoned at Tantallon Castle.
1446 - The 3rd Earl is forfeited for rebellion.
1452 - Tantallon is granted to the 3rd Earl's brother George.
1460 - George is wounded by the exploding cannon that kills James II at the seige of Roxburgh, being beside the King at the time.
1482 - The 5th Earl Archibald, rebels, seizes and hangs several of King James III's favourites, and enters into a treasonous pact with England.
1491 - Further treasonable liaisons with England leads to the Scottish King James IV besieging Tantallon Castle.
1492 - As a sign of the King's inadequacy against this powerful baron , Archibald is made Chancellor of Scotland.
1513 - Archibald dies, his two sons are killed at Flodden Field.
1528 - The 6th Earl, another Archibald, marries Margaret Tudor, widow of James IV and sister of Henry VIII. He flees to Tantallon where he is beseiged by the Scottish King James V with two large cannon and 20,000 men. The castle withstands a twenty day battering by the royal cannon, some of which are captured by the garrison as the besiegers try to withdraw.
1529 - James V burns Archibalds sister Janet at the stake. The following May the Earl flees to England.
1542 - James V is killed at Solway Moss. Archibald returns to Tantallon and offers it to the English the following year.
However, Archibald changes sides when the English desecrate Douglas tombs on their way to the castle.
1558 - The castle is reported devoid of furnishings and is not inhabited.
1566 - By the time of Queen Mary's visit, the castle is in the hands of the Crown.
1591 - Following two periods of exile in England, the 9th Earl dies.
1611 - The 10th Earl dies. His son, William becomes the Marquis of Douglas.
1639 - The restored castle is seized by a covenant army, being defended by only a few servants while the 11th Earl (and 1st Marquess) of Douglas is absent.
1651 - A party of horsemen in the castle causes such disruption to Cromwell's supply lines that he sends General Monk against it with over 2,000 men. The castle is stormed and the garrison of about 80 are overwhelmed, after the heavy bombardment of twelve days makes a breach in the northwest tower.
1660 - The garrison finally leave the castle after the Earl of Angus is allowed to take residence there.
1670 - The Earl leaves the ruined castle for the final time. It is left to ruin after this.
1699 - The castle is sold to the Dalrymples.
1900's - The castle is inhabited by a band of thieves. They enter the castle via a rope ladder and live quite comfortably here by stealing provisions from nearby farms until there were discovere