Explore Scotland’s Oldest Castles: Tantallon and Dirleton Welcoming Visitors Once Again

Explore Scotland’s Oldest Castles: Tantallon and Dirleton Welcoming Visitors Once Again

Access is increased at East Lothian heritage sites

EDINBURGH, Scotland, 2023-Jul-03 — /Travel PR News/ — Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has announced that Tantallon and Dirleton Castles will reopen tomorrow (Saturday 1 July), with visitors now being able to explore more of two of Scotland’s oldest castles.

Tantallon Castle, a mighty fortress built in the mid-1300s, is thought of as one of the last truly great castles built in Scotland, while Dirleton Castle is one of Scotland’s oldest surviving strongholds. Both castles suffered extensive damage after being besieged by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century.

Visitors to Tantallon Castle will now be able to explore the inner courtyard with views to Bass Rock, the undercroft below the Great Hall and the bakery, the east and west curtain wall stairs and the wall walks, while access restrictions will remain in place at the East Tower including the gun room, the Douglas Tower interior which includes the prison, and the Great Hall.

At Dirleton Castle, the kitchen and the Halyburton Range – where the hall, chapel and priest’s room, cellars and the bakehouse are located – will reopen while there will be access restrictions to the interior of the DeVaux Range which includes the Laird’s Chamber and the roof and wall-walk areas, the Ruthven Range on the first floor, and the bridge and portcullis chamber.

Access restrictions were put in place at the sites last year as a safety precaution while HES, who manages the sites, introduced new measures to manage the impact of climate change on its heritage assets, an issue which is affecting heritage owners globally. While necessary access restrictions were in place, HES was able to maintain access to the gardens, exhibition and shop at Dirleton Castle and the castle grounds and shop at Tantallon Castle.

The High-Level Masonry Programme, which is the result of ongoing risk assessment and sample surveys is assessing the impact of climate change on historic sites at a high level, in combination with a number of other factors, including the materials used in the building’s construction, its age and physical location. Whilst this is not an issue unique to Scotland, HES is believed to be amongst the first heritage managers to approach it in this way, with the results shared with peer organisations.

Craig Mearns, Director of Operations at HES, said:

“I am delighted that we are able to increase access to two of Scotland’s most iconic castles this weekend, and I hope visitors will enjoy exploring more than 600-years of history at these significant East Lothian fortresses.

Culture Minister Christina McKelvie said:

Scotland is fortunate to have so many wonderful heritage sites like Dirleton and Tantallon castles, which provide tangible links to the people and events that have shaped our nation’s proud history.

“I’m grateful to everyone in the high-level masonry programme for undertaking this essential work to make these sites safe for visitors and staff and to protect them for future generations to enjoy.”

Tantallon Castle and Dirleton Castle are open daily from 9.30am to 5.30pm (closed for lunch from 12.30pm to 1.30pm).

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES) 

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting, and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
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Media Contact:

Stacey Shaw
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
07721 959 962

Source: Historic Environment Scotland