Ike has been staying with Geography Cat’s friend Jane and she very kindly took him out for the day to see Tantallon Castle, near to North Berwick in East Lothian, Scotland.
Tantallon Castle is a ruined mid-14th-century fortress sitting on the mainland rocks opposite the Bass Rock, looking out across the Firth of Forth. It was the last medieval curtain wall castle to be constructed in Scotland, and was built in the William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas. It then passed to his illegitimate son, George Douglas, later created Earl of Angus.
It was besieged by King James IV in 1491, and again by his successor James V in 1528, when extensive damage was done. It was also severely damaged in 1651 during Oliver Cromwell’s invasion of Scotland. It was later sold by the Marquis of Douglas in 1699 to Hew Dalrymple, Lord North Berwick and is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.
Walking up from the visitor centre, Ike and Jane arrived at a small defensive tower and wall which was added in 1520s to strengthen the castle defences. Ike noticed what he took to be tiny windows, but Jane told him they were actually gun ports.
They walked further up the hill towards the castle and spent some time admiring the view of the Bass Rock.
If you look closely at the image above, you should just be able to pick out the lighthouse on this island which is home to the largest single rock colony of gannets in the world.
They then went to see the Doocot (dovecot), located outside the main castle building, and used to house pigeons or doves. It contained pigeonholes for the birds to nest in and Ike got a photograph taken in one of the pigeonholes. Historically, pigeons and doves were an important food source in both Europe and the Middle East; they were valued for their eggs and dung.
Over the drawbridge and into the castle to see the north range, visible on the left when passing through the castle gatehouse. Ike and Jane saw the remains of the brewhouse and kitchen, and what’s left of the Douglas Tower and Banqueting Hall.
Ike looked down from the kitchen to the rocks below where a wooden pier once stood. The holes in the rocks where the posts supported the pier are still visible today.
Ike and Jane decided to climb to the top of the castle to view the remains of the Douglas Tower which was once a six-storey block used for the lord’s lodgings. It was largely destroyed by Cromwell’s artillery in the 1651 siege. A sign at the foot of the tower warned that it was a tough climb to the top; Jane was fine, but Ike needed a hand up!
Then back to ground level where Ike found the castle well, sunk through the rock to a depth of 32 metres to provide the castle inhabitants with fresh water.
Our adventurers enjoyed visiting Tantallon Castle. Join them next time as they take a look around the small East Lothian town of North Berwick.