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Photographer's Note

Another picture taken of Tantallon Castle, near North Berwick, from the east from Seacliff, this time a little closer than from Seacliff Harbour. I was fortunate that this had been a fine day and the sun was, even just before 3 p.m., dipping down behind the headland leaving me in relative shade but still lighting the ruins of the castle.

Tantallon Castle dates back to 1358 when it was built by William, First Earl of Douglas. As you can see, it was built as a massive curtain wall across the waist of a rocky headland so that protection was provided on the landward side by this enormously strong and imposing structure but on the other sides by steep cliffs which decended straight into the sea. Living quarters lay behind the curtain wall and within its structure and a further barrier was provided by a deep ditch in front of the wall. A further ditch, a couple of hundred yards outwith that, provided further defence and the small building you can see to the left of the main castle was a dovecot, a source of fresh meat during winter months.

So strong were the defences of this imposing castle that it resisted sieges in the 15th and 16th Centuries by James IV and James V of Scotland respectively. In 1650, during the Third English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentarian forces invaded Scotland, taking control of the south of the country after their victory at Dunbar in September. In February 1651, Cromwell found his lines of communication under attack from a small group of Royalists based at Tantallon. This group, led by Alexander Seton, comprised just 91 men. Despite this, Cromwell's retaliation was to send 2,000 to 3,000 troops under General Monck, together with much of the artillery he had in Scotland, and lay siege to Tantallon. After twelve days of bombardment with cannon a breach was made in the Douglas Tower. The defenders were compelled to surrender, but only after quarter had been granted to them in recognition of their bravery. After the siege Tantallon was left in ruins: it was never repaired or inhabited afterwards.

Tantallon Castle is now cared for under the auspices of Historic Scotland.

If you look at Map:view, the pointer sits not where I was standing but on the castle itself. If you click on the multicoloured "Google" logo, you will be taken to a bigger map and be able to see more of the features of this castle and, if you wish, also look at some "Panoramio" pictures of it.

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Additional Photos by John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1985 W: 427 N: 7659] (30513)
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