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6th July 2014 - Event closed

Dirleton Castle


Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle


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Some twenty miles east of Edinburgh, the ruined yellow clustered towers of Dirleton Castle high on its rocky knoll overlooking the Victorian Bowling Green and Herbaceous gardens strikes an imposing sight. However, the present gardens (arts and crafts north garden and formal west garden) give a false peaceful impression as to the castle's original war-like strength. In ancient times this whole area was marsh land and the castle's rocky knoll itself was surrounded by a deep fresh water ditch, shielded by a wooden palisade which extended east to protect the castle-town village, as well as two drawbridges, one postern foot bridge facing east to the village and one large bridge for horse, cattle and wagon access facing south. Not forgetting the castle itself which contained five round towers, three being D-shaped in plan and two Donjon type with a further two square plan towers all connected by a battlement wall hugging the rock knoll giving the confused plan we see today.

The first stone castle was built by the De-Vauxs after 1240 and was based on Coucy-le-Chateaux in France, north of Paris. Interestingly this design of a large Donjon and lesser D-plan towers was also used in the construction of Bothwell castle near Glasgow and Kildrummy castle in Grampian. Showing that the Scots were open to new ideas in castle design from Europe.

Dirleton was held by three noble families of note. The Anglo/Norman (Scots) De-Vaux, the Border family of Halyburton and the rebel Perthshire family of Ruthven. But because of the castle's position on an ancient invasion route and its stormy history it passed through the hands of many other feuding Scots families and the invading English.

At the 1st battle of Nisbet in 1355 John Halyburton of Dirleton was killed while helping Ramsay of Dalhousie, Dunbar of Dunbar castle and Douglas of Tantallon Castle defeat the English garrison from Norham castle. Surprisingly, a few years later in 1363 Douglas and Dunbar turned on the Halyburtons and seized Dirleton castle in their first steps of rebellion against King David II of Scots for his attack on Kildrummy castle. This led to the battle of Lanark where Douglas and Dunbar were defeated by King David and forced to sue for peace. Dirleton was then returned to the Halyburtons.


We will be visiting this attractive castle on Wednesday 2nd July, the same day that we go to Tantallon Castle and Lennoxlove House. The ticket price includes entry to all three places.

We will be given a weapons display at Dirleton.

Access to the castle is by a ramp, but there are some steep steps within.

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