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The Bass Rock and Tantallon Castle (for Border Scot) | by Dysartian
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The Bass Rock and Tantallon Castle (for Border Scot)

The Bass Rock is a magnificent crag of volcanic Phonolite of Carboniferous age, rising 350 feet out of the Firth of Forth and is a landmark feature seen from both the Fife and Lothian shores.


Almost every available inch of the rock is occupied by razorbills, guillemots, cormorants, puffins, eider ducks and various gull species. However, the true lord of the Bass is the Gannet or Solan Goose (Fou de Bassan en francais) with a breeding colony of between 30,000 to 40,000 breeding pairs. The white flecks in my photo are gannets and not snow and a single gannet flies upper right. The building on the shore lower right is the magnificent Tantallon Castle, a royalist stronghold, which was almost destroyed by the cannons of Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian army.


The Rock was turned into a prison for Presbyterian ministers in the 1600’s and around forty religious/political prisoners died in its dungeons. In 1691 a party of four Jacobite prisoners escaped from their cells and captured the fortress when the garrison was busy unloading coal. For the next three years they held the fortress for the Old Pretender (Bonny Prince Charlie's father) and aided by supply ships from France, even carried out raids on the Fife and Lothian shores. In 1694 a more effective blockade forced them to surrender, but not before these brave men had negotiated favourable terms and they walked away free men. One good thing that came from their exploits was that the fortress and horrible gaol were demolished only seven years later. In 1706 the crown sold the rock to Sir Hugh Dalrymple and his descendants own it still. Apart from the occasional maintenance visits to the unmanned lighthouse (which we can see flashing from our house each evening), the rock now belongs to the Empire of the Birds and not mankind.


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Taken on August 9, 2008