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Bass Rock, Castle
For copyright information please contact ELC Archaeology Service
- HER number: MEL1733
- Site Name: Bass Rock, Castle
- Grid Reference: 360156 687278
- Civil Parish:
- Summary: Remains of 16th century castle
- Description: NT68NW 1 6020 8727
For superimposed lighthouse, see NT68NW 3.
(NT 6020 8727) Castle (NR) (rems of)
(NT 6021 8719) Crane Bastion (NR)
OS 6" map (1971)
(1)-(4) Bass Castle: Access to the Bass Rock is by a landing at the SW corner and the long screen wall of the castle, on average 40ft in height, occupy a terrace above this landing, cutting it off from the remainder of the rock. A battlemented wall projects at right angles from the screen wall (see plan); this has an internal stair with gun ports covering the approach, and ends at the rock edge with a round battery whose ports command the landing place. (This battery is named the Crane Bastion on a plan of about 1700, the crane, used for raising supplies to the castle, being indicated a short distance away). At the N end, a gateway leads past a bastion to a projection in the main screen where an entrance gives access to a long stair. On the S side are the remains of a turnpike stair to the wall-head, and on the N, a single range of rooms. The screen wall continues, incorporating a little room known as Blackadder's Lodging (John Blackadder, minister of Traquair, was one of the Covenanters imprisoned here in the late 17th century), till its final bastion merges into the cliff. Underneath Blackadder's room is a well chamber.
This work is built of local stone, with occasional dressings of imported freestone, and it is dated by the RCAHMS to the 16th century (though an earlier 'Castell of the Bas' is mentioned in 1405). At that time (i.e. 16th century) it belonged to the Lauders of Bass, passing to the Crown in 1671 and to Sir Hew Dalrymple of North Berwick in 1706. In 1902 the E part of the screen wall was pointed and given a flat-topped profile, and the lighthouse built above it (on the site of the governor's house).
RCAHMS 1924, visited 1920; C McWilliam 1978; J Reid 1886; Trans Roy Hist Soc 1895
(5) The remains of the Castle are in good condition, the walls being approximately 4ft thick.
Visited by OS Reviser (DAD) 29 June 1952
(6) Dickson 1899 The Bass rock pp 151-240.
(7) Site recorded by GUARD during the Coastal Assessment Survey for Historic Scotland, 'The Firth of Forth from Dunbar to the Coast of Fife' 1996.
- For more information contact: East Lothian Council HER
- Related Places:
- Bibliographic reference: Views in the Lothians. 'Views in the Lothians', p.65.
- Bibliographic reference: Coventry, M. 2001. The castles of Scotland, 3rd edition. 82.
- Bibliographic reference: Campbell, T. 1996. Standing witnesses: an illustrated guide to the Scottish Covenanters. 17, 47, 82, 83, 153, 204.
- Bibliographic reference: Marshall, D A. 1985b. Bass Rock: fortress in the Forth.
- Bibliographic reference: Pennant, T. 1774a. A tour in Scotland; MDCCLXIX, 3rd edition.
- Bibliographic reference: Slezer, J. 1693. Theatrum Scotiae.
- (1) Bibliographic reference: RCAHMS. 1924. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Eighth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of East Lothian. 68-71, No.108. fig.108.
- (2) Bibliographic reference: McWilliam, C E. 1978a. Lothian except Edinburgh. 94.
- (3) Bibliographic reference: Reid, J J. 1886. 'Early notices of the Bass Rock and its owners', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 20 1885-6, p.54-71. 70.
- (4) Bibliographic reference: Anon. 1895. 'Journey of L von Wedel 1584-5', Trans Roy Hist Soc Vol. 9 1895, p.241-2. 241-2.
- (5) Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Site Visit.
- (7) Unpublished document: James, H F. 1996. Coastal Assessment Survey: The Firth of Forth from Dunbar to the Border of Fife. 179.