Well if you are going to visit a castle on a cold, wet and windy day, it has to be this one, Tantallon Castle near North Berwick on the east coast of Scotland. We were driving back from Edinburgh and decided to follow the coastal road down the east side of the country on our way home to Norfolk, when turning a corner, there was this amazing castle. I made the driver (my poor long suffering husband) find the road leading up to the castle, stopping, I jumped out the car just to take a few photos. The only trouble was, once out of the car, I thought, I might never come this way again, I have to go and explore.
After paying the entrance fee I wander up the path…… really I battled against the wind, thinking I’m as mad as a hatter, while the other half is sat snug and warm in the car. It’s a really amazing castle and the nearer you get to it, the more massive it becomes and now the wind is really blustering. Once you have made your way along the path, past the huge grassy banks that form the castle’s outer ditches and crossed the moat through what is left of the outer gate, you come to the outer ward, a very large expanse of grass. Now the castle is looking quite forbidding, massive curtain walls, with large towers at the remaining corners. This large grassy area would have been home to service buildings and accommodation to allow the castle to function, including the bakery and stables.
When arriving at the bridge, you notice that the entrance is very small, only enough for one person to enter. If you look at the photo you can see where they have infilled a much larger entrance, that a horse and cart could go through, filling it in helped with the defences. Now at this point I was ready to go back as I hate small bridges and being on my own didn’t really help…..but again I though, I will regret it if pass up up exploring inside. I ran across the bridge and into the gatehouse and through into the inner ward. I must admit I didn’t like the gatehouse, quite enclosed, although open up through the levels, but I just didn’t like it, I felt as if something was there. But I did love the view from the inner ward across to Bass Rock, even thought the wind was blowing, it felt wonderful, the whole castle is on the cliff edge and the location is stunning.
After spending some time taking photos and having a quick look at the guide book, I then had to make my way back through the gatehouse, I made myself take a couple of photos and then I was back over the bridge and making my way back to the shop. Its always wise on long car journeys to use the WC when you come across them…..not sure how to say this, but as I went to wash my hands, the hand drier came on, not that strange, because they do that sometimes, but the blowing into my ear by something, was not what I expected to happen next, needless to say my hands did not get washed. Once out the door I just stood for a moment and I thought, I knew there was something here, but not in the loo’s. Today I looked up ghost’s for the castle, although they say there are no records of ghost’s there, there are a couple of photos that people have taken of them…….I might not have seen any, but I am sure I felt one.
I’m amazed that they say there are no ghosts, because there has been many sieges and fighting in the long history of this castle. The story of the castle is interwoven with one of Scotland’s mightiest medieval families, the Douglases. Tantallon was most probably built in the 1350’s by William 1st Earl of Douglas. It looks like there was a lot of family feuding, but the part of the story I found most interesting was, the 6th Earl married James IV widow, Queen Margaret Tudor in 1514. Also another Royal visitor was Mary Queen of Scots who visited the castle in 1566 at the end of a royal progress in the boarders. You have Oliver Cromwell’s men to blame for the condition of the castle, in 1651 they laid a final siege and bombard the castle until they wrecked it, after they had a victory over the Scots at Dunbar. So quite a castle to visit on a wet and windy day…………