TWO county castles are set to reopen tomorrow for the first time in two years, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has confirmed.

Tantallon Castle, located to the east of North Berwick, and Dirleton Castle in Dirleton had been closed indefinitely due to the unsafe condition of the buildings.

HES had confirmed that the risk of falling masonry had been accelerated by climate change and that vital maintenance was required to make them safe again.

The buildings closed in summer 2021 and the closures became indefinite in January 2022 while remedial works took place.

However, HES has now confirmed that it will reopen the castles to the public again from Saturday.

Tantallon Castle, a fortress built in the mid 14th century, is thought of as one of the last truly great castles built in Scotland, while Dirleton Castle is one of Scotland’s oldest surviving strongholds.

Both castles suffered extensive damage after being besieged by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century.

Despite the maintenance work taking place at both castles, certain areas will have restricted or no access at the sites.

Visitors to Tantallon Castle will now be able to explore the inner courtyard with views to Bass Rock, the undercroft below the Great Hall and the bakery, the east and west curtain wall stairs and the wall-walks, while access restrictions will remain in place at the East Tower including the gun room, the Douglas Tower interior which includes the prison, and the Great Hall.

At Dirleton Castle, the kitchen and the Halyburton Range – where the hall, chapel and priest’s room, cellars and the bakehouse are located – will reopen while there will be access restrictions to the interior of the DeVaux Range which includes the Laird’s Chamber and the roof and wall-walk areas, the Ruthven Range on the first floor, and the bridge and portcullis chamber.

Access restrictions were put in place at the sites last year as a safety precaution while HES, which manages the sites, introduced new measures to manage the impact of climate change on its heritage assets, an issue which is affecting heritage owners globally.

While necessary access restrictions were in place, HES was able to maintain access to the gardens, exhibition and shop at Dirleton Castle and the castle grounds and shop at Tantallon Castle.

Craig Mearns, director of operations at HES, said: “I am delighted that we are able to increase access to two of Scotland’s most iconic castles this weekend, and I hope visitors will enjoy exploring more than 600 years of history at these significant East Lothian fortresses.”

Christina McKelvie, minister for culture, said: “Scotland is fortunate to have so many wonderful heritage sites like Dirleton and Tantallon castles, which provide tangible links to the people and events that have shaped our nation’s proud history.

“I’m grateful to everyone in the high-level masonry programme for undertaking this essential work to make these sites safe for visitors and staff, and to protect them for future generations to enjoy.”

Tantallon Castle and Dirleton Castle are open daily from 9.30am to 5.30pm. The sites are closed for lunch from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.