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Taken two years ago on a cold January afternoon, looking northwest from Seacliff Harbour, you can see the ruins of Tantallon Castle perched on the headland and lit by the low late afternoon sun.

Tantallon Castle dates back to 1358 when it was built by William, First Earl of Douglas. As you can see, it was built as a massive curtain wall across the waist of a rocky headland so that protection was provided on the landward side by this enormously strong and imposing structure but on the other sides by steep cliffs which decended straight into the sea. Living quarters lay behind the curtain wall and within its structure and a further barrier was provided by a deep ditch in front of the wall. A further ditch, a couple of hundred yards outwith that, provided further defence and the small building you can see to the left of the main castle was a dovecot, a source of fresh meat during winter months.

So strong were the defences of this imposing castle that it resisted sieges in the 15th and 16th Centuries by James IV and James V of Scotland respectively. In 1650, during the Third English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentarian forces invaded Scotland, taking control of the south of the country after their victory at Dunbar in September. In February 1651, Cromwell found his lines of communication under attack from a small group of Royalists based at Tantallon. This group, led by Alexander Seton, comprised just 91 men. Despite this, Cromwell's retaliation was to send 2,000 to 3,000 troops under General Monck, together with much of the artillery he had in Scotland, and lay siege to Tantallon. After twelve days of bombardment with cannon a breach was made in the Douglas Tower. The defenders were compelled to surrender, but only after quarter had been granted to them in recognition of their bravery. After the siege Tantallon was left in ruins: it was never repaired or inhabited afterwards.

This picture was taken looking across Seaclff Harbour which is believed to be the smallest sea harbour in Britain. Measuring only 12 metres on its longest side and with an entrance (which you can see here) barely two metres wide, it can only accommodate one or, at most, two small boats. It was constructed in 1890 by Andrew Laidley, the then owner of the Seacliff Estate, by using a steam engine and compressed air tools to cut the stone in what must have been an amazingly arduous task.

The harbour is now used by a local lobster fisherman, Jack Dale, whose family now own the Seacliff estate. You can also see the rusted remains of an old winch set to the right of the harbour entrance.

If you look at Map: view, you will see from where I took this picture and you will also note that on the Google map there are two boats in the harbour!

You can see a larger version here on "beta" TE.

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Additional Photos by John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1245 W: 390 N: 4542] (18330)
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