Featured image of Dunbar Castle

The History of Dunbar Castle

LocationDunbar, East Lothian, Scotland (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsNo
Owned byKenneth MacAlpin
Official WebsiteNone
Rooms AvailableNo

Established overlooking the harbour of the village Dunbar in East Lothian, Dunbar Castle is one of the strongest fortresses in Scotland. The place is currently not open to the public. The place is a ruined beauty loved by its admirers, last destroyed in 1567.


‘Dunbar’ comes from the Brythonic words ‘Dyn barr’, meaning ‘the fort of the point’. Defences were built on the rocky bedrock of the land by the Votanidi tribe during the Romans’ expedition to Scotland. This was known as a Northumbrian stronghold built in 650AD. A Pictish fortress stood on the site until 849AD when the Scots captured it under Kenneth MacAlpin. Later, the first stone castle was constructed in the 1070s on this site. The Dunbar Castle was attacked in 1296 by the English under King Edward I’s rule, but the attack was unsuccessful and was launched again in 1314 when the English could seize the castle. This attack was carried out under Edward II’s rule. The castle’s defence was carried out by Randolph of Dunbar, or Black Agnes, and was successfully defended during the five-month siege by the English. The English attacked the castle many times, and it was subsequently rebuilt after each attack until 1550.

The castle is immensely associated with Queen Mary of Scots. She was captured by the Earl of Bothwell in 1567 and brought to the castle. Later, after the queen’s resignation, the Scottish Parliament ordered the castle’s destruction. Most of the castle ruins were pulled down in 1844 and created the harbour we see today. The Victorian Harbour was very richly built and had its own artillery, parts of which still remain. In 1933, parts of the castle ruins collapsed into the sea, and the castle was closed for visitors to promote public safety. The castle ruins are still visible from specific viewpoints and are in a very dangerous state. The leftover parts of the castle can collapse into the sea at any time.


Dunbar Castle
Dunbar Castle”, by East Lothian Museums, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The castle is a vast, ruined medieval fortification. The South battery, supposed to be the citadel of the castle, is connected to the central part of the castle through 69 feet of masonry. The interior of this citadel is octagonal and measures about 54 feet. Five gun ports of the castle still remain, known as the ‘arrow-holes’. In the middle of the fortress is a ruined gate leading to the inner apartments. In the centre are the arms of George, 10th Earl of Dunbar, believed to have been placed after his succession. On the right are the Arms of the Bruces, and on the left are those of the Isle of Man. The castle was originally built of red stone and was invulnerable because of the many sieges it sustained.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happened to Dunbar Castle?

The most famous event in regards to Dunbar Castle was that the Earl of Shrewsbury burned it down on a punitive raid during the Rough wooing in 1548.

Why is Dunbar famous?

Dunbar is a village located on the North Sea coast of East Lothian. The town is famous for the sunlight it receives, its rugged coastline and marvellous countryside. The village is renowned for one of the most essential Scottish Fortresses in the middle ages, Dunbar Castle.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

Rate the Castle

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

He is a versatile E-Learning Support Officer and former Academic Officer at the University of York, United Kingdom. Not just an expert in education and technology, Debayan also has a deep love for castles and mountains. With a passion for travel, having explored 168+ cities worldwide, and a keen eye for photography, He brings a unique blend of experiences to the table. Specializing in E-learning content, IT support, AR development, and software engineering, Debayan has made a significant impact, educating over 200,000 students on Udemy.

Leave a Reply