Search for the name, locality, period or a feature of a locality. You'll then be taken to a map showing results.

Broxmouth Park


The basic structure of a late-17th- and early-18th-century extensive formal landscape survives at Broxmouth Park, incorporating the site of the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. Traces of avenues, of axial vistas and of a formal water garden remain as well as some 18th-century plantings in the parkland and wilderness. There are specimen trees on the lawn near the house and an 18th-century walled garden with 19th-century additions.

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Type of Site

A late 17th/ early 18th century, extensive formal landscape associated with the Battle of Dunbar. The designed landscape is laid out around a series of long-distance vistas and includes a wilderness, walled deer park, and remains of a formal water garden. Letters from the 1st Duke of Roxburghe (d. 1740-1) show that he was inspired by the French baroque gardens he had seen such as Fountainbleau, Marly, St. Cloud, Sceaux and Chantilly.

Location and Setting

Broxmouth lies on the coast, some 3km south-east of Dunbar. Dunbar and its eastern shore form the northern boundary of the site. A limestone quarry and farmland lie to the east while the A1087, the Dunbar-Berwick road, forms the southern and western boundaries. Broxmouth House lies midway between the sea and A1087. The Broxmouth policies are prominent from Dunbar and from the A1087 to the south. The designed landscape is built around a series of axial views, shown on a 1734 estate map radiating out from The Wilderness: north-west to the Bass Rock and Dunbar Church, westwards to North Berwick Law and south-west to Traprain Law (Dunpinder Law). Along the Brox Burn there are views out northwards to the Isle of May and views from Sloe Bigging Tower over to the Bass Rock . From the South Lodge there are wide views over Doon Hill, the site of the Battle of Dunbar .

A deer park known as 'Brook Smyth' to the south of the Brox Burn existed by 1654 and was the precursor of what was later to become Broxmouth Park (Blaeu, 1654). The earliest known surviving estate plan shows the extent of the designed landscape much as it is today (Oakley, 1734). Roy's Survey (1747-55) shows the same layout, confirmed by subsequent plans of 1772 (Stobie), 1799 (Forrest) and 1822 (Thomson). The latter distinctly shows the formality of the wilderness. The 1st edn. OS 6" (1854) shows the early 18th century designed landscape continuing to form the landscape structure of the Broxmouth policies, together with greater detail within the core, garden area.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Broxmouth House was originally built as a dower house for Margaret, widow of the 3rd Earl of Roxburghe (d.1683). The present house, a two-storey, nine-bay, U-plan classical house was built in the last quarter of the 18th century, incorporating an earlier house. The architect was probably James Nesbit (d.1781). Behind the house lies a courtyard, open to the north and incorporating clairvoies in the east side, and the foundations of an extensive wing demolished in 1955. The Stable Court is late 18th century, remodelled in 1841, and comprises two ranges with coach houses surrounding a cobbled court. An oval drinking trough is situated in the centre of the court. The Walled Garden , with its internal ogee doorway, dates from the 18th century and includes a range of extensive 19th century frame yards and slip gardens. The walled garden incorporates two decorative wrought iron gates dated 1906 and 1908, with floral motifs incorporating thistles, honeysuckle and the monogram AR for Anne, Duchess of Roxburghe, née Lady Anne Emily Spencer Churchill. She was Lady of the Bedchamber and Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria. The cascades and bridges on the canalised Brox Burn were designed by William Adam pre-1743. The ice-house is stone, set into the side of an earth bank near the lake. An outflow at the side of the lake is bounded by stone balustrading, and probably dates from the late 18th century improvements. Sir William Douglas's Grave is located to the south-east of the house.

The South Lodge and Entrance are attributed to William Adam. Built as a view house or banqueting house, it is a square-plan building with a pyramidal roof and deep eaves and dates from the 1740's or earlier. It has quadrant walls with pulvinated gate piers.

The Sea Lodge is a ruinous 19th century single storey building. The Observatory, also known as Sloe Bigging Tower, a grey stone, lookout tower built 1850, stands in parkland, north-east of the house with views to Dunbar and the Bass Rock. The Vaults, a rubble building standing directly on the sea shore, is thought to be 18th century. It has a vaulted stone ceiling and remains of a forestair. A cast-iron drinking fountain, by Glenfield and Kennedy Ltd of Kilmarnock, is set by the east wall.

The rubble estate walls are extensive and follow the coastline to the east far beyond the cement works. Directly to the north of the house there is open-fronted ruined structure built into the park wall. The walls are considerably higher around the enclosed deer park. Northwest of the house a pair of 18th century gate piers are set into the deer park wall, marking a previous entrance. A small cemetery, including a lodge that dates from the 1950's, is situated in the south-eastern corner of the deer park. A pair of 18th century gate piers stand to the north of this cemetery, probably relocated from another site within the policies. The Gardener's Cottage, a two-storey, three-bay stone cottage lies to the north of the walled garden.

Drives and Approaches

The house is now approached from the West Lodge, a single-storey 19th century building, as shown on the 1799 county map (Forrest, 1799). The entrance at the South Lodge is in use, and leads along the Green Avenue (1876, OS 25") with a curving driveway flanking it to the east which was probably inserted in the 19th century.

To the east of the house a drive led to the Sea Lodge by way of Sloebigging, but this north-eastern area of the estate has been disturbed by quarrying. The drive led along the coast to the Mid Links, developed as golf course in the 19th century, alongside an extensive coastal rabbit warren (Forrest, 1799; 1st edition OS 6", 1854).


South of the house, the park is enclosed on its south-west perimeter by a raised terrace and stone faced dyke, planted with Wych elm (Ulmus glabra). The Brox Burn forms the north-west of the boundary of the park and is separated from the park by a row of sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), planted on small mounds. The Green Avenue forming the east boundary of the park is the southern extent of the 18th century axial vista that extends northwards along the ornamental stretch of the Brox Burn. Two roundels of mixed deciduous and coniferous trees planted on mounds, are features of the 18th century design (1734 plan). The remains of a small house and garden, occupied until the late 20th century, is set within the western roundel. A scatter of oaks (Quercus petraea) is evident across the park and the layout seems to have changed little since 1854 (1st edition OS 6").

Woodland Garden

The Wilderness, now predominantly beech (Fagus sylvatica) and elm (Ulmus glabra) with Sitka spruce (Picea sitchenensis) plantations inserted into the layout, lies to the north and west of Broxmouth House. A very large elm coppice (Ulmus glabra) survives from the 18th century designed landscape, as do some yews (Taxus baccata) on a bank lying between the Wilderness and garden. In the north of the Wilderness is a mature planting of Wych elm (Ulmus glabra). Although the complete formal layout of the Wilderness has been lost, many of the diagonal footpaths relate to the original formal layout and some of the designed views can be discerned, although they are obscured through lack of woodland management (20th century).

Water Features

The Brox Burn was diverted in the 18th century to form the major landscape axis running north-south, directly on the east side of Broxmouth House. Canalised with stone revetments, the scheme incorporates nine waterfalls and bridges, before issuing out into the sea. Although this work is attributed to William Adam and shown on the 1734 estate plan, the waterfalls are not detailed.

A loch with three small islands lying on the north boundary of the park is enclosed by a seaward boundary wall, and was so constructed sometime in the late 18th century (Stobie, 1772).

The Gardens

The gardens around the house are now mainly put to lawn. Cromwell's Mount, a feature of the earlier formal landscape (Oakley, 1734) lies directly across lawns to the west of the house, and is planted with a Cedar of Lebanon (Cedris libani). Close by is another Cedar of Lebanon, planted by Queen Victoria who visited Broxmouth Park in 1878. nearby a plaque commemorates the planting of four oak trees in 1908: 'These four oaks were planted by the descendants of Queen Victoria'. The trees are labelled: 'Princess Alice Countess of Athlone', 'Lady Mary Abel-Smith', 'Anne Liddell-Grainger' and 'Alice Liddell-Grainger.'

Walled Garden

The walled garden, sited to the east of the Green Avenue, had been built by 1734 (Oakley). Considerable 19th century developments include the laying out of extensive slip gardens around the walled garden, which to the north-west incorporated frame yards, pit houses and fruit houses, and to the south-east and south-west further slip gardens specifically for growing fruit. Those to the south-west retain their espalier fruit trees, although the slip garden to the south-east is overgrown. The latter comprises a raised area about 6m (20ft) wide bounced by a small ha-ha type rubble dyke and beech hedge.

The Ordnance Gazetteer notes that there were five vineries, probably sited within the walled garden on the north wall, which have not survived (Groome, 1882). A row of derelict 19th century, red sandstone, potting sheds, bothies and boiler houses stand on the north side of the walled garden. A blocked 18th century ogee-shaped doorway is located within the potting shed.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Reason for Inclusion

A remarkable example of late 17th / early 18th century, extensive formal landscape associated with the Battle of Dunbar. The designed landscape is laid out around a series of long-distance vistas and includes a wilderness, walled deer park, and remains of a formal water garden. Letters from the 1st Duke of Roxburghe (d. 1740-1) show that he was inspired by the French baroque gardens he had seen such as Fountainbleau, Marly, St. Cloud, Sceaux and Chantilly.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

The main phases of landscape development are the baroque layout from the late 17th/ early 18th century, with features added to the layout in the late 18th century. There were further gardens and walled gardens in the mid 19th century.

Site History

John, 1st Duke of Roxburghe who became Secretary of State in 1704, was considered to be a man 'of great and good sense' (q.v. Inventory, Volume 5, p.306). During his time in France he visited the royal gardens of Fountainbleau to Sir William Bennet of Grubet near Kelso that 'the more fine houses and the more fine gardens I see the more am I determined neither to build, nor make gardens, but I don't desire the Marquis of Tweedale should know this' (Roxburghe Muniments). The 2nd Marquis of Tweedale, Roxburghe's neighbour at Yester House, was a great tree planter and friend of John Evelyn, and was involved in great rebuilding works there (q.v. Inventory, Volume 5). Roxburghe's letter does not equate with subsequent history, for Roxburghe carried out extensive improvements and alterations at both Floors and Broxmouth.

Documentary evidence shows that he was planting thorn hedges at Broxmouth in 1709, and by 1712 creating a formal designed landscape there. To the north-west of the house this comprised the deer park surrounded by a high stone wall, with a wilderness and formal water gardens to the east of the house. John Adair (d.1722), appointed Geographer Royal by James VII, was employed by Roxburghe to draw up a plan for the grounds in 1713 but the whereabouts of the plan is unknown. By 1723 Broxmouth was described as 'another delicious seat of the Duke of Roxburghe called Broxmouth; it consists of a body and two wings and a fine paved court between the wings, with a good avenue coming up to it, and a spacious parterre in the middle of a fine park, prodigiously planted with tress in great thickets between it and the sea.' (Macky, 1723). This baroque landscape with formal gardens around the house bordered to the south and east by the canalised burn is shown on the 1734 estate plan (Oakley, 1734).

The Duke of Roxburghe was active in exchanging information and ideas on the layout of policies and planting of gardens with other prominent landowners both at home and abroad. Mr Scott, Lord Burlington's gardener at Chiswick, supplied a list of fruit tress in 1737 (SRO), He may have taken advice from Lord Binning (1697-1733) was the son of the 6th Earl of Haddington. Haddington, who wrote A treatise on the Manner of Raising Forest Trees (published posthumously in 1761), refers to the works of John Evelyn and Phillip Miller. The latter was appointed curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden in 1722 while it is interesting to note that Edward Oakley, the architect who drew the 1734 Broxmouth estate plan, designed the greenhouses there.

Roxburghe commissioned William Adam (1689-1748) to build Floors Castle. He is recorded working at Broxmouth sometime before 1743, being responsible for a series of cascades along the burn, a bridge and repairs to the house. The south lodge and gateway are also probably by Adam. This south lodge appears originally to have been a view house or banqueting house, built intentionally so as to overlook the site of the Battle of Dunbar (1650) and Doon Hill. It has been suggested that the south lodge replaced another building on the front line of the battle, captured by the Scots at the start of the battle (Firth, 1899). Cromwell and his troops were garrisoned at Broxmouth House when the Scottish army descended Doon Hill to be disastrously routed by Cromwell. He is said to have viewed the battle from 'Cromwell's Mount' where he uttered the words 'God is delivering them into our hand, they are coming down to us!' as the Scottish army descended Doon Hill.

John, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe (1740-1804) was responsible for late 18th century developments in association with the rebuilding of Broxmouth House. He added to the formal elements of the design by constructing the lake to the north-east of the house (1799 plan).

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland


  • Mount
  • Description: Cromwell's Mount, from where he is believed to have commanded the fighting at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650.
  • Lake
  • Description: An 18th-century loch.
  • Icehouse
  • House (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential





Open to the public


Electoral Ward

Dunbar East




  • Historic Scotland