Blackness Castle sits beside the Firth of Forth at the seaport that served the royal burgh of Linlithgow in medieval times. It was built in the 1440s by one of Scotlandís most powerful men, Sir George Crichton. He was the earl of Caithness and sheriff of Linlithgow. The castle was not intended to be a peaceful residence. In 1453 it became a royal castle when King James II seized it and The Crichton lands. It served as a royal prison, housing many of King James IIís enemies.
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Between 1537-1543 the castle was transformed into one of the strongest artillery fortifications of its age, making it able to withstand an artillery attack. In the 1650s the castle was bombarded by both land and sea by Oliver Cromwellís army. After the siege, which badly damaged the castle, it continued to be manned by a small contingent of men. It was restored to its use as a prison between 1759 and 1815 because of the Napoleonic wars.
In the 1870s Blackness castle became the armyís central ammunition depot in Scotland. Barrack blocks, a pier and a sea entrance were constructed. The castle continued being used for this purpose until 1912 when it was designated an ancient monument. The castle was restored in the 1920s to reflect its medieval background. Historic Scotland eventually took over its care. The castle was used in the filming of Ivanhoe and Hamlet.
The castle has been likened to a ship with its prow heading out into the water. There are three towers: the north held the prison; the south had residential rooms; and the west tower rose to four storeys. When visiting the castle you can walk the walls, see the dungeons, and climb to the top of the tower.
4 miles north of Linlithgow, off the A904
Edinburgh and the Lothians region
Tel: 01506 834807
Open: daily, April-end Sep, 9.30am-6.30pm; Oct-end March, 9.30am-4.30pm, closed Thu and Fri.
Parking, shop, refreshments; some areas handicapped accessible.
Historic Scotland property