Another Loose Ends adventure and back to East Lothian. The last connection was the bridge at Belhaven and I had considered going to Dumbarton Castle through quite possibly my favourite possible link ever: the bridge to nowhere could link to ‘Road to Nowhere’, a song by Talking Heads, whose lead singer, David Byrne, was born in Dumbarton. Sadly, that bit of inspired thinking, which occurred to me rounding the corner at Albion Road on the way to the football, didn’t come to fruition. I still ended up at a castle but one not connected to Talking Heads, I don’t think.
Dirleton is a village not far from North Berwick in East Lothian. It is a handsome place, certainly, with a kirk and a village green. And a castle, which is what I like about it. I’ve been there a few times, once notably in snow. The east coast of Scotland isn’t really known for snow and it being the east coast, the snow swirled around in the wind, which made it even colder. Luckily this trip wasn’t snowy though there was a bit of haar (sea mist) rolling off the Forth, which meant it was a bit cooler and there wasn’t much of a view. I thought about linking Dirleton to Belhaven because it is (usually) possible to see Traprain Law from both, though I could still see North Berwick Law even with the haar, which is also visible from Belhaven.
It is probably one of my favourite castles, with bits added by each of the three families who held it, the De Vauxs, Halliburtons and Ruthvens. Dirleton is a ruin, which is the way I like my castles, but it is fairly intact with a few cracking rooms. I particularly like the cellars, topped with a rounded roof, and one of the chambers which had window seats on a few of its many sides. Despite the lousy weather, there were a right few other people there, including some with dogs (permitted in most Historic Environment Scotland properties), and some families, one doing a treasure hunt. I spent around an hour wandering from room to room, looking over the gardens and what I could see of the surrounding countryside. I didn’t imagine myself King of the Castle, though: I’m too much of a republican for that.
Loose Ends is about the connections and Dirleton can link to quite a few. It could link to the original Loose End, Aberdour Castle, because it also has a bowling green, or to Craigmillar Castle – the best castle in Edinburgh – because of its many nooks and niches, which Dirleton reminded me of. I could, just, see the Forth and along the Forth a bit is Inchcolm Abbey. Since Dirleton is managed by Historic Environment Scotland, it could link to any other property managed by that agency. I’ve never actually been up North Berwick Law, which I could see from the castle, so that might be an idea for next time.
Either way, I left Dirleton enriched and inspired, suitably in love with my nation’s history and my home county once more.
Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends adventure follows next week.