In 1651, Cromwell’s armies descended on the ancient stronghold of the noble Douglas family. With 3000 men attacking, they laid waste to the survivor of previous centuries of sieges and battles, the scene of many a grisly and cold death. The ruins have stood empty since then, slowly crumbling and providing shelter to local birds – and possibly a ghostly visitor.
Overlooking the the Firth of Forth and the Bass Rock, Tantallon was first built in mid-14th century by William Douglas, Earl of Douglas. The nephew of Robert the Bruce’s brother-in-arms Sir James Douglas, William showed his family trait for violence when he took control of the Douglas family name and estates by murdering his godfather.
The curtain-wall castle is built of local red sandstone, and is considered by many to be the last of Scotland’s great castles.
In 2009 pictures circulated on the internet and around the world showing what appeared to be a be-ruffed 17th-century gentleman peering out from the ruin’s windows. The photographer claimed that no one had been there when the photo was taken, and experts have been unable to pinpoint exactly what the image shows. Since then, ghost hunters continue to flock to the ruins, seeking further appearances by the mysterious visitor.
Know Before You Go
Tantallon is run and maintained by Historic Scotland, so admission, discounts, and hours of operation apply. There is a parking lot on site. The castle is near the town of North Berwick, a 20 minute bicycle ride along the coast. Be prepared, as it can get quite windy along this stretch of coastline. Be sure to take advantage of the free telescope located inside the castle grounds to view Bass Rock, the world's largest Gannet colony.