Short trip out to Dirleton Castle in Dirleton, a few miles west of North Berwick. The battle-scarred image of Dirleton Castle is clear evidence of its turbulent history until its final transformation as a formal garden.
Since I had just missed the last bus to Dirleton Castle, I popped into the tourist office to get more information about North Berwick itself. I had no map of the area and since the town is quite spread out and there were no signposts, I had to use my instincts to get to the town centre. And the distinctive shape of the extinct volcano mound of Law Hill did not help either.
After wandering westward, I finally found the tourist office and the main town centre, where I learnt that transport links on Sunday were pretty bad. As a result, I was restricted to visiting just Dirleton Castle, with the next bus departing in 15 minutes. Thanking the assistant, I walked back to the bus stop in the hope that I would not miss my next departure.
The town of Dirleton is just 5 to 10 minutes by bus, but spotting the castle proved to be the difficult part, the only distinguishing feature was a short stone wall that surrounded the garden and the castle within. The best idea was to get the driver to tell you where to get off and walk.
After walking around the long herbaceous garden near the castle mound, I arrived at the remains of the gatehouse, now the main entrance to the castle. It is surrounded by huge round towers on either side, now also in ruin. Literally speaking, the whole castle has been badly damaged from countless sieges. The kitchen, great hall and dining areas were massively exposed while many of the stairwells were badly damaged. The only areas that have been well preserved I could remember include the chapel, the underground vaults, some rooms along the gatehouse and an underground prison.
The devastation that was evident speaks volumes about the history of the castle as it dates back to the days of Robert de Bruce where he made it unusable for the English, right up to the final assault and destruction of the castle by Oliver Cromwell. Its function as a ornamental garden is perhaps a fitting and peaceful end for the castle and proves that perhaps mother nature is the only way to repair the damage done by war.
Dirleton Castle Page