Built in the 15th century by one of Scotland’s most powerful families, the Crichtons, Blackness was never destined as a peaceful lordly residence; its enduring roles were those of garrison fortress and state prison.
Blackness is often referred to as ‘the ship that never sailed’. This is because of its appearance, for from the seaward side it looks just like a great stone ship that has run aground. The pointed stem projects into the water, while the square stern stands beached on dry land. The castle’s three towers add to the effect – the small ‘stem’ tower at the prow, the tall ‘main mast’ tower at the centre, and the solid ‘stern’ tower at the rear.