The remains of Dirleton Castle stand on a rocky crag, hidden within the grounds of a beautiful garden.
The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 13th century when John de Vaux replaced an earlier castle on the site. The main feature of his castle was the three storey drum tower, or keep, which contained the Lord's hall and private apartments.
From the late 13th century when Scotland and England were at war, the castle was attacked repeatedly, changing hands many times, eventually being partially demolished on the orders of Robert the Bruce. When the last de Vaux lord died without a male heir, the barony and castle passed to the Halyburton family. From the late 14th century, and for much of the 15th century, the battered castle was rebuilt as a magnificent residence, with new lodgings, a great hall, a chapel and a prison.
In 1515 the castle passed to the Ruthven family. The Ruthvens built a new house on the site of part of the de Vaux family's apartments, overlooking the new gardens they designed. Don't miss the magnificent beehive shaped dovecote that remains from this period.
The castle last saw military action during the civil war, and afterwards was left to fall into ruin. Later owners maintained the gardens, probably viewing the castle as the ultimate garden ornament. The gardens feature in the Guinness Book of Records for having the longest herbaceous border in the world.
- In the village of Dirleton, three miles west of North Berwick on A198
- Dirleton Castle, Dirleton, North Berwick, East Lothian, EH39 5ER
- Historic Scotland. Open to the public. Admission fee.
- For further information visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
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