Thursday, 24 January 2013

Medieval Castle by the Sea - Part 1

Tantallon Castle near North Berwick, East Lothian.

Tantallon Castle stands on a rocky headland looking out to the Forth and the North Sea.
It was built in the 1350s as a fortress- residence by William 1st Earl of Douglas.
William had spent his youth in France and would have been well acquainted
with French architecture and design.

The Douglases were one of the most powerful baronial families in Scotland and over the following
centuries the castle was  the scene of  banquets,sieges and intrigue.
After Archibald the 8th Earl died in 1588 it was no longer used as a private residence.

In 1651 the castle was severely damaged by Oliver Cromwell's guns and never rebuilt.
It is now in the care of Historic Scotland.

The Mid Tower housed the lord's most senior officials.

The East Tower originally of five storeys had single room on each floor with a latrine closet.
This may have been guest accommodation.

A pedestrian walkway now replaces the drawbridge. Below is the Ditch which increased
protection for the main curtain wall.

The Douglas Tower,once a seven storey 30 metre high structure,contained the private quarters
of the lord and lady of the castle.

Information board illustration  -  showing how the castle may have looked when first built.

Tantallon was the last "curtain wall" design castle to be built in Scotland.

The Inner Close,behind the curtain wall,would originally have been enclosed
on all sides by a high wall on the cliff edge.

Blue skies give a false impression of the weather conditions on the day I visited.The wind
was bitterly cold and snow flakes were constantly flying about,even in the sunshine.

Great hall extension.

Image source - Wikipedia

Reconstruction of a late Medieval great hall in Yorkshire.
In Scotland at this time the floor may have been stone and the tapestries of French design.
This was an entertaining,feasting and dancing room.

The minstrels gallery would have been on the wall facing the lord's table,
and  most commonly of wooden construction with stairs connected to
a passageway,so that the performers could come and go unseen.

Image Source - Wikipedia

Musicians and entertainers would either be retained at the lord of the castle or travel
from place to place around Europe.

Instruments played are likely to have been,fiddles,bagpipes,flutes,
flageolets and drums.

Below the great hall lay the kitchens and other utility rooms.

Information board illustration of a servant with pots.

Copper alloy pot handle,ceramic buttons and bird headed spout found at Tantallon.

An army of anonymous servants cooked,cleaned,sewed,brewed,baked,nursed,cut wood,tended
animals,guarded,prayed,shoveled all manner of muck and much much more.

The kitchen would probably have been one of the more desirable places to work.......and sleep.

The Well in the Inner Close,sunk to a depth of over 30 metres,was the castle's main water supply.

Information board showing layout plan.

To be continued .....


biebkriebels said...

What a nice post. I am always so impressed by the remains of old buildings. You can imagine how things have looked like and see the surroundings. This castle was built at a very strategic point and it has still a lot to show.

Ramakrishnan said...

Amazing, spectacular & mesmerizing pictures.

Lynne with an e said...

Fascinating description and photos. So foreign to N.American eyes; castles in the air, so to speak.

sharon said...

how extremely interesting to me!! I love the engraving!

Boris Smola said...

The ruins of ancient cities, castles are fascinating. This too.
It is surprising that so long castle destroyed, but no one restores.

dritanje said...

It's such an amazing building. Whenever I see these old castles I wonder how people in those days could bear the cold weather. I guess they were stronger and hardier then! Mind you, they probably most of them anyway, did not live so long. In the drawing of how it might have looked, it resembles a little, the old city of Carcassonne, but then you did say that William who built it was acquainted with French architecture. I learn a lot from your posts - great pictures,
M xx

Tomoko said...

Hi, Ruby.
Seeing the information board of the whole castle and the ruined building,I am touched by the long history the castle has.I like to see the ruined castle with the long ditch in the first photo. It is surprising to see that the deep well is not covered!

Thank you for sharing those interesting photos and the history!
Be careful not have a cold,Ruby.

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Tomoko,The well is covered,there's a metal grid just out of sight!

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Boris,at the time it was destroyed I think no one considered the large cost of reconstruction worthwhile.Also these Medieval fortress castles had become obsolete.Throughout history old mansions have been demolished and replaced by more fashionable "modern" buildings.I'm pleased they left this one alone.

sarah said...

I feel long history of the castle by the sea. I knew about curtain wall for the first time in this post. Thank you!
Have a lovely weekend!

Lynn said...

Oh my goodness - what a wonderful post!
A stunning building on a stunning site.
Your post really gives a sense of what life would have been like there. Inspiring - thanks!

Tomoko said...

Thank you for your reply. What a great idea!

cosmos said...

Great pictures! The holes of the stone castle look like hollow eyes. It seems to tell lots of history there. I like the interior of the building; simple and warm materials or colors. It seems to me an Asian taste.
Powder snow remains on the tracks and around the well. Here it was very cold as well. Stay warm, Ruby.

stardust said...

Hello, Ruby! I love this atmospheric castle ruins still standing magnificently and solitary as if recalling the past glorious prosperity. Thanks for your inserting the various images, I could imagine what the life of the people was like back then in the castle.

Severe man-made damages are really regrettable but wear and tear in the course of long history can’t be helped. It’s nice to know the castle is under the care of Histonic Scotland.


Palomasea said...

Fascinating, dear Ruby....thank you so much for sharing this...
It now looks even more romantic perhaps, in this state...
My vivid imagination (with the help of your re-telling and images)takes me back in time...
Beautiful photos.
Can't wait for part 2! ;)
Stay warm, sweet friend...
- Irina

lisa lewicki hermanson said...

What an interesting place ! So much atmosphere !

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