Three towers project from the curtain wall.The earl's and his family had their private lodgings in the north tower. The gatehouse was in the middle and the south tower was most likely used for guest accommodation. This was a residence designed for the display of power. The earls entertained their sovereigns, the rich and mighty and foreign dignitaries against the backdrop of their magnificent castle on top of the cliffs with the Bass Rock off the coast.
To service the needs of the castle and its visitors the forecourt in front of the curtain wall, protected by the outer defenses was originally filled with service buildings, brew-house, bake-house, workshops and stables of which the only survivor is the seventeenth century doocot. Built in the lectern style with crow stepped gables at either end it had nesting boxes for one thousand birds.
On three occasions during its history Tantallon was transformed from a luxury residence into a fortress.In 1491 it was besieged by James IV and again in 1528 by James 1528. On both occasions Tantallon proved to be impregnable. It was the English invasion of Scotland in 1651 by Crmwell who sent General Monck to take the castle that brought Tantallon's history as a powerful stronghold, and a residence to an end. The upright medieval walls could not withstand the battery of a modern artillery barrage, the damage of which can still be seen. The castle's position had meant that it was incapable of being adapted to withstand modern bombardment. The castle was abandoned to the birds leaving one of the most awesome ruined castles in Scotland.