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Join the defenders of Dirleton under siege

15 June 2010

The year is 1298, the Wars of Scottish Independence are raging and Dirleton Castle is under siege.  Strategically located between Edinburgh and the English border, the peaceful retreat built by Anglo-Norman knight John de Vaux is a key target in the conflict.

De Vaux, guardian of the castle, and his men have withstood the assault by English forces led by Antony Bek, the Bishop of Durham, for several months.  But then comes a terrible blow - news of Sir William Wallace’s defeat at the Battle of Falkirk.  The English victory means there’s nothing to stop the attack on Dirleton being stepped up.

Come and watch the drama unfold at Dirleton on Sunday 20th June - Father’s Day - in an exciting re-enactment event, The Guardian and The Bishop.  Join the Historic Saltire Society to take your place as a defender of the castle.  Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of siege life.  See the fearsome weaponry and hear de Vaux and his men discuss the increased threat they face from the Bishop’s troops and the reasons for Wallace’s defeat.  And join them in considering whether they should surrender the castle or fight to the death.

Nick Finnigan, Historic Scotland Events Manager, said: “The Guardian and The Bishop’ takes visitors back to a turning point in Dirleton Castle’s history as this crucial siege moves forward to its climax.  And the Historic Saltire Society, which performs authentic re-enactments, will ensure they get a real insight into the excitement and tension of a historic siege.”

The Guardian & The Bishop is from 12 noon until 4.00pm and the event is included in the price of admission to Dirleton Castle – great value at £4.70 for adults, £2.80 for children and £3.80 for concessions.

Families who come along to enjoy the event and a great Father’s Day day out at Dirleton and its beautiful gardens on 20th June have an opportunity to gain another visit stamp on their Historic Scotland ‘Family Challenge’ passport.  The Challenge set is for families to visit as many Historic Scotland attractions as possible by 16th July for a chance of winning an exclusive VIP castle experience.


  • Dirleton Castle is situated in Dirleton village, 3 miles west of North Berwick. It is one of the oldest surviving castles in Scotland, connected with the De Vaux, Ruthven and Haliburton and Ruthven families. The castle boasts a stunning garden which has origins dating back to the property’s earliest days as a medieval fortified residence.
  • John de Vaux, who built Dirleton Castle, was among a number of French Anglo-Norman knights invited to Scotland, and granted land, by King David I of Scotland in the 12th century. De Vaux was granted the barony of Dirleton and built a castle in 1239.  Peaceful times ended in 1296, with the outbreak of the Wars of Scottish Independence. Dirleton changed hands several times through the invasions of the English under King Edward I. The defeat of Sir William Wallace, at the Battle of Falkirk allowed the English to bring up large siege engines, after which the castle was soon reduced. Dirleton was garrisoned by the English, but must have been retaken by the Scots before 1306, when the English commander, the 2nd Earl of Pembroke, recaptured Dirleton once more. It was finally retaken by the Scots some time before 1314, and was deliberately damaged, to prevent its reuse by the English.
  • Dirleton Castle is just one of 345 outstanding heritage properties and sites in the care of Historic Scotland.  Ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings, these include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country. Among the most popular are Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Skara Brae, and the Border Abbeys.  For further details of all of Historic Scotland’s sites visit:
  • Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.
  • Historic Scotland’s current ‘Make Your Own History’ membership promotion is offering 15 months’ membership for the price of 12 when membership – enabling unlimited access to 78 paid attractions - is purchased by direct debit.  Family membership costs less than £7 a month.  For more information on the offer, which runs until mid July, visit:
  • - search for Make Your Own History
  • Historic Scotland’s ‘Family Challenge’ – asking families to see how many different attractions they can visit by 16th July -  is designed to encourage take up of the three months’ free offer before it closes.  To take part in the Family Challenge, families need to download a ‘passport’ from the ‘Make Your Own History’ microsite,  They then have to get their passport stamped at each Historic Scotland site they visit by 16th July.  After the deadline, they have to send their stamped passport to Historic Scotland to show the number of sites they’ve visited.  A winner will then be selected to win a special prize – a VIP family experience at one of Historic Scotland’s top castles.

For further information, interviews and images

Ellen Drummond Ferroni
0131 668 8685 / 07801 820757