Places to Visit in Scotland
- Blackness Castle, Lothian
Handily located a few miles west of Edinburgh, Blackness Castle on the Firth of Forth was built in the 15th century by the powerful Crichton family but became a royal residence when King James II> annexed the lands and it was later to serve on a number of occasions as a prison. High ranking captives included Cardinal Beaton, Archbishop of St Andrews in 1543. The castle became a formidable stronghold with thickened walls and defensive guns. The garrison at the castle held it in support of Mary Queen of Scots> for six years. It was besieged by Oliver Cromwell> in 1650 and the more powerful guns of those times left the castle in ruins. It was restored during the Napoleonic wars and it again acted as a prison.
Located at a natural harbour, which served the Palace of Linlithgow> four miles inland, the castle was surrounded on three sides by water. The castle is often referred to as "the ship which never sailed." Visitors can wander around inside the castle, climb the stairs to the top of the tower, see the stone fireplaces which provided the heating in winter (and the dungeons where there was no fireplace or windows) and walk the castle walls and the pier jutting into the water, with a view of the Forth Rail> and Road > bridges over the river a few miles away. There is a Historic Scotland> shop and small cafeteria on the site.
The Bo'ness & Kinneil Steam Railway> is further up the Firth of Forth from Blackness Castle and Linlithgow> and its Palace is near at hand also. The House of Binns>, a 17th century mansion house is not far away.
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