Aerial image of a castle on the banks of the Forth on a sunny day.

Blackness Castle

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Largely intact medieval castle whose doughty defences once guarded the Firth of Forth

  • Image of castle next to a body of water.
  • Family walking on beach towards a castle.
  • Man and girl looking out across a body of water.


Blackness Castle is a 15th century fortress on the south shore of the Firth of Forth. The mighty fortifications make the castle look like a ‘ship that never sailed’. Historically, Blackness has never been just a peaceful lordly residence – its enduring roles were as a garrison fortress and state prison.

Believed to have been built on the site of an earlier fort by Sir George Crichton in the 1440s, the Castle is close to Blackness which was the main port serving the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow, one of the main residences of the Scottish monarch at the time. It was passed to James II of Scotland in 1453 along with the lands of the Crichton family and has belonged to the Crown ever since.

It did at one point serve as a state prison, holding such prisoners as Cardinal Beaton and the 6th Earl of Angus.

The Castle was strengthened in the mid-16th century by Sir James Hamilton of Finnart which led to the Castle becoming one of the most advanced artillery fortifications of its time in Scotland. Falling to Oliver Cromwell's army in 1650 during a siege, the castle was then repaired and again functioned as a prison and garrison.

Officers' quarters along with barracks and officers' quarters were built in the 1870s, and the castle was used as an ammunition depot, until 1912.

Briefly used by the army during World War I, the Castle is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.

Briefly reused by the army during World War I, It is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument, in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.

Often referred to as "the ship that never sailed", the Castle's north and south towers are often named "stem" and "stern", and the central tower known as the "main mast".

The Castle appeared as Fort William in Series One of the Outlander series.

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Key Features




Coach Parking


On Public Transport Route


Picnic Area

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Access guide

Drop-off point

Partial wheelchair access

Nearby to Blackness Castle

Approximate duration and distances shown are from Blackness Castle.

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