Just made a day trip to Blackness Castle. The castle is on the shores of the Firth of Forth in West Lothian, about 2 miles from Bo’Ness and fairly near Edinburgh.
The castle is unique in that it is remarkably complete. It was built in the 15th century and has been in almost continuous use for most of its life. It protects the Forth and the port of Linlithgow, and though it is smaller than the castles in Stirling or Edinburgh it has seen numerous sieges over its history.
The landscape offers excellent defense and the walls here are extremely thick. From the outside, the castle design greatly resembles that of a ship, which is new one for me.
The village of Blackness is very tiny – not so much as a shop, cafe, or pub (that was open) and just a few houses.
I’m guessing this relatively remote location made the castle a perfect place to store ammunition which was its primary function from 1870 up until WWI. It was also a minor military barracks, but its primary purpose (other than defense was as a prison. The castle itself has a very rugged and one could argue grim appearance (nothing like picturesque Urquhart or Castle Campbell), but you can see a natural beauty there as well in the way it rises out of landscape.
At the time Blackness Castle was built Linlithgow was the primary royal residence and Blackness was the primary port – the castle was built by the Crichton’s but soon passed to James II. Fortifications were added in the mid 16th century making it one of the most advanced artillery forts in Scotland, but that didn’t prevent it from falling to Cromwell’s army a century later.
It was recently used during filming for the movie Doomsday.
Travelling around the countryside is not so easy when you don’t have a car, I managed to get the train to Linlithgow and a bus from there to Blackness. Unfortunately there are only four buses a day that go Blackness so rather than wait around for another 2.5 hours in a village with no pub or cafe I walked back to Bo’Ness along the shore route to catch a bus from there – its nice to feel like you have the time to take an impromptu 90 minute hike, especially since it did get me home an hour sooner.