On the shore opposite Bass Rock lie the clifftop ruins of the 14th century Tantallon Castle, once the seat of the Douglas Earls of Angus, which offers views down to the sea below which would cause those with a fear of heights to run screaming, as well as a magnificent view of Bass Rock. Anyone planning to visit on Halloween should beware: a couple of years ago it was reported that a photograph was taken at the castle which was deemed to be the world’s most convincing ghost snap. The photograph of a group of family members revealed another figure in the background dressed in Tudor garb.
Further round the coast, at the entrance to the Firth of Forth, is the town of North Berwick. The tiny harbour here is reached through narrow streets and adjacent to the harbour wall is the 12-century Auld Kirk. The Auld Kirk is believed to have had a Christian settlement in the 7th century, and in 1999 archaeological investigations revealed a burnt circle and Roman coins. In 1590 the Auld Kirk was the scene of the North Berwick Witch Trials in which a number of people from East Lothian were accused of witchcraft, including Francis Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell. The confessions of the accused were extracted by torture. Auld Kirk Green was the scene of covens held by the “witches”. Nowadays, North Berwick is the Headquarters of the Scottish Seabird Centre, which offers a range of activities, including boat trips out to Bass Rock (see previous post). The Center was the recipient of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2009. The John Muir Way (see Dunbar post) passes through the town.
Map of the area.