Tantallon Castle is a mid-14th-century fortress, located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east of North Berwick, in East Lothian, Scotland. It sits atop a promontory opposite the Bass Rock, looking out onto the Firth of Forth. The last medieval curtain wall castle to be constructed in Scotland, Tantallon comprises a single wall blocking off the headland, with the other three sides naturally protected by sea cliffs.
Tantallon was built in the mid 14th century by William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas. It was passed to his illegitimate son, later created Earl of Angus, and despite several sieges, it remained the property of his descendants for much of its history. It was besieged by King James IV in 1491, and again by his successor James V in 1528, when extensive damage was done. Tantallon saw action in the First Bishops' War in 1639, and again during Oliver Cromwell's invasion of Scotland in 1651, when it was once more severely damaged. It was sold by the Douglases in 1699, and the ruin is today in the care of Historic Scotland. In 2009 photographs were published which purported to show a ghost in a window of the castle.
Tantallon is of a singular construction within Scotland, the defences comprising only a single large wall securing a coastal promontory. The south-east, north-east, and north-west approaches are naturally defended by steep sea cliffs, and were only ever protected by relatively small defensive walls. To the south-west, a massive curtain wall blocks off the end of the promontory, which forms the inner courtyard. The curtain wall is built of the local red sandstone, and has a tower at either end and a heavily fortified gatehouse in the centre, all of which provided residential accommodation. A north range of buildings, containing a hall, completed the main part of the castle, enclosing a courtyard around 70 by 44 metres (230 by 144 ft). In total, the buildings of the castle provided around 1,100 square metres (12,000 sq ft) of accommodation.
In its form, Tantallon follows on from the 12th-century castles of Bothwell and Kildrummy, as a castle of enceinte, or curtain wall castle. It was the last of this type to be built in Scotland, as the smaller tower house was becoming increasingly popular. For example, Threave Castle, built at around the same time by Earl William's cousin Archibald the Grim, is a much more modest tower. There are also similarities between Tantallon and "courtyard" castles, such as Doune, which also dates from the late 14th century, and is entered via a passage beneath a strong keep tower.