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History of Tantallon Castle Uncovered

Posted: 8th September 2015

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Visitors to Tantallon Castle can see behind the scenes of a live archaeological dig this week, culminating in a weekend-long living history event on the 12th and 13th September, Tantallon Uncovered. Archaeological excavations in recent years have uncovered tantalising glimpses of the castle’s medieval history, and Historic Scotland have been able to commission several new reconstruction drawings based on what has been discovered. In 2014, the demolished remains of a stone building in the castle’s outer close were found, and in 2015 archaeologists hope to shed more light on the development of these structures, and investigate the offensive ditch from the 1650/1 siege.

Visitors are being offered the chance to see archaeology close-up with guided tours of the dig, and there is also the opportunity to handle and examine excavated artefacts and chat with the archaeologists. The team will be on site until 14 September and are happy to explain their latest discoveries, which all add to knowledge of everyday life in one of the most important castle sites surviving in the British Isles. On Friday 11th September, the Historic Scotland Conservation team will also offer a special Insight Tour of the castle, explaining how the current archaeological dig is informing the conservation and maintenance of Tantallon Castle. During the weekend of 12-13 September, visitors to Tantallon Castle will be treated to a special event where historical re-enactors bring the work of the archaeologists to life. Tantallon Uncovered will feature a 17th century soldiers’ camp and weaponry demonstrations, as well as the chance to see the archaeologists in action. Visitors can see the context of the finds as they hear about daily life for covenanting soldiers, take in weaponry demonstrations and explore the soldiers’ camp.

Richard Strachan, Senior Archaeologist at Historic Scotland said: “The results of the recent excavations have shed light on hitherto unknown parts of the castle: last year, excavation in the castle’s courtyard revealed a wall that divided this courtyard into two zones, one perhaps more residential in nature and the other more of a service area.  The remains of 14th century ranges  and the demolished remains of a stone building in the castle’s outer close were also discovered, whilst excavated pottery, animal bone and other evidence has revealed how people lived during medieval times.”

Lorna Ewan, Head of Visitor Experience at Historic Scotland, added, “part of the Dig It! 2015 programme and East Lothian’s Archaeology fortnight, the dig and Tantallon Uncovered event will offer visitors the opportunity to see history brought to life in front of them, at the same time as archaeologists uncover more of it. We are really excited to be able to combine living history with archaeology in this way, giving people the chance to experience different aspects of the castle’s history.”

Free to Historic Scotland Members, Tantallon Uncovered will take place at Tantallon Castle from 12 – 4pm on 12 and 13 September. The event is included in admission to the castle.

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