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Dirleton Castle

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There are few fortresses in Britain that have seen as much political conflict and warfare as Dirleton Castle.  Originally constructed by the Norman Knight Sir John De Vaux around 1240 AD it was repeatedly damaged and rebuilt over the centuries until it was finally abandoned as a stronghold around 1670. It’s located on an outcrop of rock close to the coast of the Firth of Forth and was part of a chain of castles protecting the southern approaches to Edinburg – the Capital of Scotland. During the Scottish Wars of Independence the castle was captured by the forces of King Edward.

After the war the castle was acquired by lord John Haliburton who repaired the considerable damage and added new structures including a terrible pit prison and a new residential tower. He briefly lost control of the castle when it was captured by Walter Douglas during the Rebellion against King David. Dirleton castle was taken over by the Ruthvens family in 1510AD. However, they plotted against both King James VI and Mary, Queen of Scots. In fact, Lord Patrick Ruthven was responsible for the murder David Rizzio, the Queen’s private secretary. He fled to England where he later died – some say he was murdered. His son, William Ruthven, was responsible for the kidnapping of King James IV and was later executed for this action. In turn, his son John Ruthven, staged a daring but futile conspiracy to kill or kidnap king James IV. He was killed in the process. The once noble name of Ruthvens was shamed and both title and lands associated with the Earls of Gowrie were forfeited forever.

During the Wars of three kingdoms the castle was taken over by Scottish raiders call Moss-troopers. Parliamentarian forces besieged the castle an eventually captured it using cannon fire. It was then further destroyed to ensure it could not be used again by the royalist Scots. it was never rebuilt or refortified. It was acquired in 1663 by John Nesbit, styled Lord of Dirleton, and allowed to become a fanciful ruin surrounded by extensive gardens for which it is still visited today. It even has even won a Guinness World Record for the longest Herbaceous border. There are no specific ghost stories but many visitors claim to feel unusually cold and jittery when visiting the tunnel basements and dungeon area. It is now in the care of Historic Scotland.



Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Just Off the A1097 (Rd), Oxwellmains, Dunbar
East Lothian, Scotland, EH42 1WG
+44 (0)1368 866 881

Contact Details

  • Address: Dirleton Rd, North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom, EH39 5ER
  • GPS: 56.046075,-2.778161111
  • Phone: 0044 (0)1620 850 330
  • Part of UK: Scotland
  • Sat Nav Postcode: EH39 5ER
  • Entrance Fees: Entrance Fees Apply
  • Disabled Access: Reasonable
  • Visibility from Road: External Walls Only

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