This is what comes of reading too much Nigel Tranter novels! Ooh! Lets go there! On this occasion it was a good call though. This was a top morning out. If you've got a car and are in Edinburgh on a nice day then the 20 minute drive (or train) out of the city to North Berwick is just the ticket! Its as windy as: Even on a beautiful summer's day like this one and not overly warm, exposed as one is here.
Tantallon Castle is the ruins of a 14th century fortress on the East Coast of Scotland and was the historic base of the Red branch of the Douglas clan (The Earls of Angus). Although there were fortresses on this site since at least the 1200s.
Above is the landward face of the castle which leads one in through the ruins of the 6 story keep.
Once through the keep, one enters what would have been the main courtyard of the castle. Now that the back walls have gone it provides amazing views out towards Bass Rock.
This was the main reason this was so difficult to attack. It was a big, strong, well defended structure on the landward side, which meant it would be a hard castle to take. The way around that problem would usually be to lay siege to it. However, the castle could easily be replenished from the sea. This also meant anyone could escape that way too if things got a bit hairy. You might, in the end, capture the castle but anyone and anything of any value would have long gone to fight another day.
The castle is probably best known during the reign of James V. Red Douglas was married to the King's mother, Margaret Tudor, who was the sister of Henry VIIth of England and regent of Scotland at the time. The couple tried to take the infant king to England as per Henry's wishes. This cost Margaret the Regency which was given to the Duke of Albany, a favourite at the French court. Annoyed Henry and cemented the Auld Alliance (Big win for the Scottish nobles!)
Then, in 1525, with further support from the English, Angus staged a coup d'etat, seized the King and kept him prisoner in Stirling and Edinburgh castles and made himself Chancellor. When in 1528, the 16 year old James escaped he united Scotland against Angus who retreated here to Tantallon. Despite a long siege, James was unable to bring his guns close enough to do real damage to the castle and Angus escaped him.
Angus promptly legged it south to England and James took over the castle. Angus got it back after James' death in 1542.
The views from the battlements are stunning.
But back to the History lesson (This will give you an idea of the nonsense my children have to suffer whenever we go anywhere!):
All was then peaceful for the best part of 100 years. The castle did not really escape the reformation and the civil wars that whistled around that piece of history. The Douglas family remained Catholic after the Scottish reformation thus hacking off the Covenanters who were fighting Charles I's (another Catholic) attempts to meddle in the Church's affairs. They captured the castle while the new Angus was away in Edinburgh.
During the English civil war when the English invaded Scotland in support of the Scottish reformation (Charles was King of both realms so a common enemy) and defeated the Royalist troops at Dunbar, they found their lines of communication harried by Royalists raiding out of Tantallon. Cromwell responded in the only way he knew, to whit, send in General Monck to knock nine shades out of the tower, with all of the artillery that could be mustered. So that's what happened. The castle was never restored after this.
This will be a blog about my latest shots and what I liked or was trying to do with them
I am a teacher of Economics and have worked in various schools in Europe & Asia. One of the things I love doing is getting out and about with my camera.