Tantallon Castle

Tantallon Castle and the Bass Rock
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Tantallon Castle and the Bass Rock

Occupying a dramatic position 3 miles (4 km) east of North Berwick, Tantallon Castle was a stronghold of the Douglas family, built in the 14th Century. It is set on the edge of high cliffs, with the Bass Rock forming its back-drop. Originally built by William, 1st Earl of Douglas (c.1327 - 1384), the castle passed through his illegitimate son to the Earls of Angus (or the 'Red Douglases').

Tantallon includes a doo'cot, earthwork defences, a dry moat and a massive 15-m (50-foot) high curtain wall with flanking towers, which defends the structure from the landward side, the seaward side being effectively defended by cliffs. This wall extends to more than 90m (300 feet) in length. The gatehouse tower was extended and remodelled in the 16th century by King James V (1512-42), evidenced by the green-coloured stone which contrasts with the red stone used elsewhere. Sir James Hamilton of Finnart (c.1495 - 1540) is thought to have been responsible for the outer defences in the 1530s.

The ruin which remains today is much as it was left after General Monk (1608 - 1670) had laid siege to the castle in 1651.

Tantallon was drawn in 1815 by William Daniell (1769 - 1837) with the resulting aquatint published in his Voyage Round Great Britain. A plaque at the rear of the castle entrance records the visit of Queen Victoria on 26th August 1878.

Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry arrow

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better