The Ruins of Tantallon Castle

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Tantallon Castle was built during the 14th century and passed down in line to the Red Douglases, Earls of Angus. It withstood many a siege due to the location on the cliffs on the Firth of Forth and the formidable curtain wall on the landward side, until Oliver Cromwell laid siege with heavy guns.

During our stay in Edinburgh, Scotland, this July, we decided on escaping a rainy day in Edinburgh and visiting nearby Tantallon Castle instead. On approaching the castle, we were met by low defensive walls, followed by a deep ditch with the curtain wall and gate house looming over. The Bass Rock could be seen in the distance, surrounded by fog hovering over the Firth of Forth.

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Over the drawbridge and through the gate house, while looking up for Tantallon Castle’s ghost, supposedly a courtly figure dressed in a ruff. A bit of a controversy that one, most people (including me) think it is just another tourist descending or ascending the stairs.

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Sadly there was no ghost to be seen (this courtly figure should be hanging out in front of the only window on the photo with metal bars) and we moved on to the inner court. From there we had a stunning view on the Firth of Forth and the ruins of the north range, where in olden days kitchens and the great hall could be found. A big part of the ruins is open to exploration, so we climbed up and down stairs to have a look around.

When you live in the castle, you had a nice and high view over the water and the cliffs. In the pit prison deep below however, this was the only light you would get.

I climbed as high as possible, reaching the battlements on the curtain wall and the higher parts of the Douglas tower. Still no ghost to be seen… Architecturally, I think the castle was rather magnificent to behold, as our architect friend and acting tour guide agrees on. The thing I liked most of all though was examining the various stones used for building Tantallon Castle and seeing the marks of decay where the salty winds chisel their marks, eating away the stones.

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4 thoughts on “The Ruins of Tantallon Castle

    1. It is a good medieval castle indeed and about a 30-40 minutes drive from Edinburgh. I am sure there are some other nice ruins in driving range of Edinburgh, but our friend thought this would be the nicest to visit.

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