The Tantallon Castle Photograph:
An Initial Investigation

We have carried out an initial investigation into the Tantallon Castle photograph.

1) Has the image been digitally manipulated?
We first showed the image to Steve Sayers, Art Editor of BBC Focus, who noted: "The image doesn’t show any signs of been altered at all, I’ve checked the RGB channels which is usually a give away, and also the level of noise, grain and focus. However, after enhancing the shadows it looks like it could be somebody coming down the spiral staircase".

2) Could it be a real person?
Tantallon Castle is located on the East Coast of Scotland, just a few miles away from North Berwick. We visited the site and found the area directly behind the grille is open to the public, and has a considerable footfall because it is at the intersection of a staircase and two battlements.

Here is Richard Wiseman standing and kneeling down at the grille. Thus it is possible that a member of the public could be in that area.

3) Is the 'figure' due to the light reflecting off of the rocks at the back of the opening?

We also took some photographs to show the pattern of rocks at the back of the opening, and it seems possible that the stonework could give rise to some unusual shadows. Christopher Aitchison took his photograph on May 26th 2008 at around 1500, and we visited at 1400 on 25 March 2009. The difference in British Summer Time would mean that the lighting conditions on the two occasions would be similar. We did not see any evidence that the sun would produce the 'patch' of light shown in the image.
Here is a photograph of the rocks at the back of the opening.