Blackness Castle is a 15th-century castle fortress on the south shore of the Firth of Forth and one of Scotland’s most impressive strongholds and is recognised as the most advanced examples of artillery fortification in Scotland. It was built on the site of an earlier fort by Sir George Crichton in the 15th century and has had a military career spanning some 700 years.
Blackness was the main port serving the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow. Because Linlithgow Palace didn’t have a dungeon or jail, Blackness Castle also served as a prison, holding such prisoners as Cardinal Beaton and the 6th Earl of Angus.
The castle was strengthened in the 16th century but was not strong enough to prevent Oliver Cromwell’s army in 1650. The castle was repaired and again served as a prison and a minor garrison.
In 1693, the spur protecting the gate was heightened and the Stern Tower shortened to provision three heavy guns. Barracks, officers’ quarters and a pier were added in the 1870s when the castle was used as an ammunition depot. The castle was repurposed by the army during World War I.
This impressive fortress provides the setting for the ‘Fort William’ headquarters of Black Jack Randall in TV series Outlander as well as featuring in the heart-wrenching scene of Jamie’s incarceration. It was also used as a location for Hamlet and Ivanhoe.
Because of its design and position jutting into the water, Blackness is often compared to a ship. It is locally known as ‘the ship that never sailed’. The north and south towers are named “stem” and “stern” and the central tower the “main mast”. From the castle you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Firth of Forth, The Forth Bridges and Fife.