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Scotland Magazine News - 100 years since 14th century David’s Tower rediscovered

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Scotland Magazine Issue 99

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Tue 27 Nov 2012

100 years since 14th century David’s Tower rediscovered

This November marks one hundred years since David’s Tower, a rare surviving fragment of Edinburgh Castle’s medieval history, was rediscovered during excavation work by the Ministry of Works.

David’s Tower, built in the 1380s, stood 100 feet tall and was the first ever ‘Tower House’, dominating Edinburgh’s skyline for 200 years. It was the Royal residence in the rebuilt castle and was as high as a ten storey block of flats.

The Tower was built by King David II, after whom the Tower is named, as part of the great reconstruction programme of the Castle following its earlier destruction by David’s father King Robert Bruce, who ordered its demolition to render it useless to the ‘auld enemy’ – the English.

The Tower also witnessed the infamous ‘Black Dinner’ of 1440, during which the Earl of Douglas and his younger brother were accused of treason (signified by them being served a black bull’s head on a platter) in the presence of the 10 year old King James II. Rough justice followed immediately – they were dragged out into the palace yard, (now Crown Square) and beheaded.

During his youth James V was kept a virtual prisoner in the Tower, by Regent Albany, with no access to his mother, Mary of Guise.

Nick Finnigan, Executive Manager of Edinburgh Castle said: “David’s Tower is a fascinating part of Edinburgh Castle’s history.

“It provided a secret hiding place for Scotland’s Crown Jewels during World War II due to fear of invasion and also witnessed the infamous Black Dinner of 1440 after which the Earl of Douglas and his younger brother were accused of treason and then beheaded.

“I am pleased to say that recent access improvements to David’s Tower have made it possible for us to consider taking small escorted groups to see the tower for themselves and learn about its intriguing past.”

The Tower is now completely hidden from view, situated behind the great curved front of the Half Moon Battery located on the South East corner of the Castle overlooking the current Esplanade.