Tantallon Castle

Tantallon Castle was the last truly great curtain wall castle built in Scotland, first raised by William, 1st Earl of Douglas, around 1350. Its towering walls, over 15 feet thick and rising over 100, provide picture-perfect views to the Bass Rock and Firth of Forth. It’s really just one giant wall, enclosing a spur of land flanked by cliffs – an almost impossible nut to crack. Its reputation was so sturdy that local folk would say, ‘Ding doon Tantalloun, ding doon Tantalloun, build a brig to the Bass’. Effectively, you have just as good a chance of attacking it as you do of building a bridge out to Bass Rock, over a mile offshore.

In 1528 James V besieged the castle for twenty days with some 20,000 men, but only succeeded in taking it the following year through bribery. It’s said he spent his days during the siege playing (and losing badly at) cards, for nothing else could be done. A true ‘sod off’ castle if ever there was one. It did finally fall to Cromwell’s canons in 1651, but the ruins that still stand remain amongst Scotland’s most imposing and impressive medieval structures. Managed by Historic Environment Scotland.