Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle


Location: Dirleton, East Lothian, Scotland  Map

Constructed: 13th century


Description of Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle is a medieval castle situated in Dirleton, East Lothian, Scotland in United Kingdom.  Dirleton Castle was constructed in the early 13th century in John de Vaux. It was badly damaged during Wars of Scottish Independence in the late 13th and early 14th century that became famous after production of "The Braveheart" with Mel Gibson.


Dirleton Castle stands on a rocky outcrop, in the heart of rich farmland of the former Barony of Dirleton. He occupied a strategic position, defending the coastal road from Edinburgh to England via the North Berwick Harbor. Today Dirleton Castle lies in ruins, the castle consists of a dungeon of the thirteenth century, two wings added by the Haliburton in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries - but of which there remains only the ground floor - as well as a adjacent dwelling built by Ruthvens in the sixteenth century; all other existing buildings in the high court having been demolished. Around the castle is a walled garden dating back to the sixteenth century - but replanted for the most part in the twentieth century.


Built around 1240 by Jean de Vaux, the castle was heavily damaged during the wars of independence of Scotland, during which he was besieged and taken twice by the English. In the fourteenth century, Dirleton was repaired by the Haliburton family and sold to the Ruthvens in 1505. The latter were involved in several plots against Mary I of Scotland and King James VI and finally lost the castle in 1600. Since then, Dirleton is no longer inhabited, except in 1650 during the Third British Civil War, when Oliver Cromwell is forced to besiege the castle to dislodge the enemies who had taken refuge there. Heavily damaged, it was bought shortly thereafter by John Nisbet, Lord Dirleton who decided to build a manor house in the nearby Archerfield estate. His descendants continue to maintain the grounds of Dirleton Castle before passing it on to the state in 1923. He is now under the protection of Historic Scotland, who maintains the gardens, and is classified in Category A.