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Aerial shot of Blackness Castle.
Aerial view of Blackness Castle.
Blackness Castle battle reenactment.
Blackness Castle view from tower overlooking sea.

Blackness Castle

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Please be aware of government guidelines before setting off.

Government Guidelines
  • Visit Blackness Castle to explore the turbulent history of this imposing structure and revel in its architecture and history
  • Built in the 15th century, check out the impressive stories that are nestled between the walls of this great fortress and discover the sights from the top overlooking the mighty view.
  • Don't miss out on the events that are held here such as reenactments, offering your family a chance to learn so much while immersing yourself .
  • Head to the Stem tower and set off on a Wall Walk that every child will love.

Families love a visit to Blackness Castle, a mighty 15th century castle turned fortress, referred to as the 'ship that never sailed' because of its imposing, ship-like and ship-wrecked look. Rich in tumultuous history, this lordly residence has taken on many roles, from being a state prison, to a garrison fortress, a military depot, plus the filming spot for films such as Hamlet and more.  

The Crichons, who were considered one of Scotland's most influential families, built this structure in the 1400s. Blackness Castle overlooks gracefully across the River Forth to Rosyth. This Falkirk Castle has has many feats in its repertory, being  a royal castle, armaments depot, a prison, and a film location for many different shows and productions, such as Hamlet and the BBC production of Ivanhoe. The castle's appearance is great fun for the kids to check out, investigate, and immerse themselves in the history of this structure. From the castle you can enjoy stunning, picturesque views of the Firth of Forth and Fife over Linlithgow and historic Scotland.

Blackness Castle was seized by James II, and then remained in Crown ownership, firstly as a garrison fortress and then a state prison. The castle has undergone many changes, but could not withstand the onslaught of Cromwell’s artillery in 1651. It was then redeveloped in 17th century, becoming an important military base up until the 1870s after it changed again to become a munitions depot. It fell from its military positions in 1912 and, despite a heavy-handed restoration in the 1920s, retains much of its rugged charm.

On your tour of Blackness Castle, you'll find the walls of the South Tower, which are over 5m thick. Keep your eyes peeled for the gaps in these walls that were created to allow the inhabitants of the castle to fire at attackers. This defence was effective till Oliver Cromwell came to Scotland in 1650. New artillery was highly effective and could be fired much further, and Cromwell had the benefit of attacking from both the land and the sea. The Fortress finally surrendered, although it was badly damaged. After being repaired and altered further in 1660, Blackness Castle's later historical past echoed its previous function as a jail. While you're here, you'll learn that this was a prison for French soldiers who were involved late 18th and early 19th century wars that took place in Scotland.

Get up to the roof of the central tower, the highest point in the castle, to get the best views of the River Forth and feel the breeze, sun and Scottish air on your face, admiring the interwining roads, hills and surroundings.

Don't miss out on the Black Castle events that take place here in the Stem Tower, the wall walk trips, perfect for both adults and children and more on offer, so check out their schedule of events to find out what you can do. *For more fun trip in Scotland with your family, check out Callendar House and Park, a mansion set within the grounds of Callendar Park in Falkirk, central Scotland with lots on offer for families, from play areas, festive events, and wonderful exhibitions detailing the stories of this house, plus interactive sessions.

Wondering what else has been filmed in this glorious castle? Blackness Castle was featured In Mary Queen of Scots (2018), which starred the likes of Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, where it was the Palace of Holyrood house, which is the place where Mary Queen of Scots married Lord Darnley and also the place where her secretary and good friend David Rizzio suffered some unfortunate happenings (which we won't spoil). Another popular television for Blackness Castle, Outlander used the castle as the set for Fort William if you look closely.

For more Falkirk days out, check out The Kelpies and Helix Park where you and your family can connect with nature, experience tours of these magnificent structures and take on some nature trails and adventure play areas.

What to know before you go

  • Blackness Castle opening times are 10am–4pm.
  • When you're feeling peckish, there is a shop onsite selling drinks and snacks, check out the Lobster Pot in Blackness village for great food, Mannerstons Farm Shop and Cafe for a great recharge, Champany Inn for wonderful dining and plenty more nearby to satiate your hunger needs. Plus, there are picnic tables dotted around the castle
  • There are toilets, baby changing facilities but no accessible toilets onsite, the nearest are at Tesco on Link road.
  • The site is mostly accessible, with rails to help you where there are steps. As this is an old site, there are uneven parts such as cobbles, plus the weather can make navigation harder if it rains. There are spiral stairs to reach the upper parts and these do not have rails. Some areas are inaccessible to those using wheelchairs and pushchairs.
  • Assistance dogs are permitted at all our sites and within roofed areas.

Getting there

  • If travelling by public transport, The Bo’ness and Area Community Bus Association runs a minibus from central Edinburgh to Blackness and back again with stops in between. At Linlithgow, you can get a bus from Cross, the F49 towards Boness to Square then walk to Blackness Castle
  • If travelling via car from Falkirk its about 25 minutes via M9, follow the signs. From Edinburgh, it's just under an hour via A90 and A904. From Glasgow, it's just under an hour via M80 and M9.
  • The Car park has limited spaces and will be monitored. It is only available for those that have booked tickets to visit the castle and its grounds.

Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.

Government Guidelines

Location

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Historic Environment Scotland

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Historic Environment Scotland, previously known as Historic Scotland, runs and cares for 360 monuments. It’s responsible for safeguarding Scottish heritage, caring for Historic Scotland sites like the Antonine Wall, Bothwell Castle, Edrom Church and more. It’s an intrinsic part of looking after Scottish history.

This public body has been protecting historic Scottish listed buildings and sites since 1991. Not only does Historic Environment Scotland care for these properties, but it also cares for the environment strategy to make sure the buildings are available for future generations. They also care for manuscripts, art collections, and other works in their archives which all tell the history of Scotland.

A Historic Scotland membership allows you to have free admission to castles and heritage attractions across Scotland. Your custom helps protect the buildings, with a magazine each month explaining what they’re doing. Your Historic Scotland pass will also give you retail and cafe discounts, discounted entry to other attractions like ones owned by English Heritage, and access to Historic Scotland events. There are different types of memberships so you can pick the one which works best for you.

If you’re looking for places to visit in Scotland, start with Historic Scotland.