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Mud and muskets at Tantallon Castle

9 May 2014

This weekend, visitors to Tantallon Castle will be treated to a special event combining archaeology and historical re-enactment.

Archaeologists Under Siege will see re-enactors playing some of those who defended the castle against Cromwell’s soldiers in a 1651 siege, as they set up camp in the castle grounds over the course of the weekend.

Visitors will be able to travel back in time to the 17th century, learning about how soldiers from the period would have lived, dressed and fought. As well as taking in weaponry demonstrations, visitors can explore the soldiers’ camp, finding out about daily life in the 1650s.

There will also be the opportunity to meet some of Historic Scotland’s archaeologists, who will be excavating a series of trenches at the site along with a team from Kirkdale Archaeology and volunteers from the Friends of North Berwick Museum and Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society.

Following excavations last year - which uncovered a range of archaeological features and  artefacts, including musket balls which may have been used by Cromwell’s soldiers – the team will be on site once again, targeting areas of  potential archaeological interest identified by  a recent geophysical survey.

Visitors to the castle can watch the archaeologists in action, ask them questions and help out with the cleaning of finds. Guided tours of the dig will also take place during the weekend alongside the historical re-enactment.  

Dr Lorna Ewan, Head of Visitor Experience, Content and Learning at Historic Scotland said: “Once home to the Red Douglases, one of Scotland’s most prominent and powerful baronial families, Tantallon Castle endured three major sieges; in 1491, 1528 and 1651. This unique event, part of our Year of Homecoming 2014 programme, offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about Oliver Cromwell’s siege of 1651. It marries living history with groundbreaking archaeology, giving visitors the opportunity to delve into the castle’s history in a multi-faceted way.”

Archaeologists Under Siege will take place at Tantallon Castle from 12-4pm on 10 and 11 May. The event is included in admission to the castle. For further information visit

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • Scotland welcomes the world in the Year of Homecoming 2014 providing a year-long programme of events alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games. The Year of Homecoming Scotland will run until 31 December 2014 throughout the length and breadth of the country. Visitors from around the world are invited to join in a celebration of the nation’s food and drink, active pursuits, cultural heritage, nature and ancestral heritage. Homecoming Scotland 2014 is a Scottish Government initiative being led by EventScotland and VisitScotland, supported by numerous partners. To find out more visit For more on Historic Scotland’s Homecoming activities visit or tweet us using #hshomecoming.

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For further information

Alice Wyllie
Historic Scotland Media Office
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768 096