Tantallon castleTantallon castle appears rather precariously on the cliff edge as you drive toward the crumbling building. Although the castle looks rather majestic and large as you walk over the grassland to the entrance, you seen realise that a large portion has been lost to the sea as you walk through the gate. This doesn’t take away from the site at all, it just makes it easier to look out to the famous Bass Rock!
Tantallon Castle was one of the last great castles to be built. In the 1300’s William Douglas built the castle and after inheriting lands from his father and uncle he became the 1st Earl of Douglas. He built the castle as a fortress to defend against trebuchets, battering rams and bows and arrows, accounting for the thick curtain walls with few openings and wide deep ditch in front of the castle. Later occupants of the castle chose to increase the defence of the castle by adding filled in wall cavities to withstand canon shots, gun holes and extra gun defences.
Although the castle was besieged twice by the Scottish Crown, James IV and James V, it survived both attempts due to it’s formidable defences. It wasn’t until Oliver Cromwell beseiged the castle in 1658 when the army caused such destruction that the castle was abandoned and left in the current state.
You definitely shouldn’t miss the view from the top of the remaining curtain wall, with a view across the sea to the various islands at the mouth of the Firth of Forth.
Don’t forget to head down toward the pit prison and see how grim life as a prisoner was, the children especially love this part! The castle is a little bit of a maze of stairways, so it’s fun to challenge the kids to find the stairs to the prison!
Keep a look out for the variety of wildlife on site, especially during nesting season when you can see the seabirds flying to and from nests on the cliff edge below the castles Northern walls.
Also keep an eye out for Tantallon’s resident ghost seen at one of the windows in a stairwell of the castle!
For The Kids
Ask at the desk for a kids Explorer Pack, which is a little backpack with 6 different items for the children to use as they explore the castle. We’ve rarely been given the packs without asking at castles, so definitely enquire at the reception.
We visited with Natalie and her children, so the kids had 2 bags between the 4, which was perfect for putting on puppet shows!
The packs we were given in 2018 had a jester hat, binoculars, 2 x puppets, torch and a musical instrument. These were great for the kids to act out little shows with puppets, dress up as a jester and use the binoculars to look out toward Bass Rock. The musical instrument wasn’t used much by our two, but the torch was handy for visiting the darker areas of the castle.
Price and Opening Times
From the 1st April to 30 September: Open daily 9.30am to 5.30pm, with last entrance at 5pm
From the 1st October to 31st March: Open daily 10am to 4pm, with last entrance at 3.30pm
It costs £6 for an adult, £4.80 for a concession and £3.60 for a child, under 5’s are free.