Tantallon Castle


Tantallon Castle was the formidable stronghold of the Red Douglases, the Earls of Angus. Built around 1350 on a rocky promontory in the Firth of Forth the castle is surrounded on three sides by cliffs which fall away into the sea. The front approach was defended by an outer ditch with a small gun tower and gate and then an inner ditch. The main body of the castle featured three towers, the East, Mid and Douglas towers which jut up out of the four meter thick curtain wall. The castle was upgraded over the years to allow for developments in artillery.

Tantallon was home to the Red Douglases for almost three hundred years and the family played an important part in the history of Scotland. William Douglas was the first earl and his new status brought with it the wealth needed to construct an impressive family home. After the Battle of Otterburn the Douglas family was divided, resulting in a fierce rivalry between the Red Douglases of Angus and the Black Douglases. In 1491 the fifth Earl, Archibald made a pact with Henry VII of England and James IV sieged the castle. The outcome of the siege is unknown but Archibald was soon back in royal favour and he died peacefully in his bed in 1513 the same year his two sons were killed along with the king at the Battle of Flodden.

The future king James V was held prisoner by the sixth Earl, another Archibald, and when he escaped in 1528 he charged Archibald with treason and led a great force on Tantallon. For twenty days the King´s guns fired on the castle but to no avail and the force withdrew. The castle fell into royal hands after Archibald fled south to England and James V presided over a major rebuilding project which took several years to complete. In 1651 Cromwell sieged the castle bombarding it for twelve days and leaving it in a poor state. Tantallon was never occupied again and instead was left to slowly crumble away. It came into State care in 1924 and is now maintained by Historic Scotland who are currently repairing the entrance, visitors can explore the ruins for a small fee (£4.50 at the time of writing).



Tantallon Castle Tantallon Castle Tantallon Castle
Tantallon Castle Tantallon Castle Tantallon Castle