I love it when I go on a journey and stumble onto something completely unexpected. Something I didn’t plan for. Little surprises, wondrous discoveries. Like the one I stumbled upon in North Berwick, in Scotland.
On the bus ride to my hotel the other day, we drove past meadows filled with sheep, a trailer park on a bluff, gas stations, apartment complexes. And then I looked out the window to my left and my jaw dropped. There loomed a massive crumbling castle! I couldn’t believe it. Only planned on coming to North Berwick to see the Highland Games, and it turns out they have a historic castle here as well. I went there today. And it was amazing.
Tantallon Castle was built in the 1350s by William Douglas (whose uncle was a close friend of King Robert Bruce), and for the next 300 years, the Red Douglases lived there as one of the most powerful families in Scotland. It seemed to me from all the history I read about them that they betrayed their own countrymen a lot. Made me wonder how the people of North Berwick feel about this place.
In 1491, Tantallon Castle was besieged by James IV in reprisal for an agreement to betray him to Henry VII of England. In 1543 the Douglases again sought to betray Scotland to England, allowing it to be used as a base by Henry VIII's ambassador during his "Rough Wooing" of Mary Queen of Scots. In 1650 Cromwell's forces attacked and destroyed the castle, leaving it pretty much the way it is today. Tantallon is supposedly haunted, and there’s a video you can watch that shows the “ghost.” I don’t know. I’m not convinced. See what you think. (See video below.)
Walking around in the roofless rooms of Tantallon - ancient stones soaring up into the sky - was truly like stepping back in time.
GUEST WRITER'S BIO
Vicki Speegle is an award-winning screenwriter whose feature script LOVED ONES was in development at Amazon Studios and was a finalist for best screenplay. Her screenplay DEAREST was a finalist for the 2011 Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and her television pilot THE WAKES OF WILBUR POE recently placed in the finals of Slamdance.
Vicki grew up the daughter of a gay single mom turned pastor in Akron, Ohio, where she helped take care of her two younger brothers, an experience that provided fodder for a number of short stories and scripts. Her infatuation with storytelling began at the age of five when she sent a love letter to Donny Osmond, and since then she has worked an eclectic mix of jobs to support her writing habit, including 4 years in the U.S. Navy tracking nuclear submarines on a tiny island called Adak, Alaska, assistant to a very eccentric New York City artist, and a brief bout as the world’s worst waitress. Vicki studied music performance and education at Akron University before making the move to New York University, where she earned her BFA in Film & Television Production. During her studies at NYU she interned as assistant to the editor for Ken Burns’ production of THE WEST. She wrote, directed, and produced several shorts, including her thesis film OLDER, which went on to screen at the Tribeca Underground Film Festival and won 2nd place in the Pioneer Theatre Short Film Slam in New York City.
After graduating from NYU, Vicki joined Rigas Entertainment as assistant to the Director of Development, helping in the development of feature films with directors Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty) and Maggie Greenwald (SongCatcher). In 2005 Vicki began shooting a documentary about her mother’s struggle to reconcile her faith as a pastor with her advancing Alzheimer’s. The project is currently in post-production and has garnered the support of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). In 2007 Vicki’s screenplay LOVED ONES placed in the top 5 of the Bluecat Screenplay Competition and won Screenplay Live at the Rochester Film Festival. Her works have placed in several other competitions, including Women in Film, Chesterfield, and American Zoetrope. Vicki’s credits include a teen comedy for Applause Films and radio scripts for Wynton Marsalis, Director of Jazz At Lincoln Center.
Vicki lives and works as a writer, filmmaker, and web producer in New Jersey. She is still waiting for Donny’s response.