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Dalhousie Castle


Dalhousie Castle is situated on a meander of the South River Esk. Very little remains of the 19th-century picturesque landscape although some woodland walks can just be traced along the river. A few late-18th-century plantings that were once part of an avenue survive in Anna Park. Castle Park is farmed for arable crops. Dalhousie Castle has been run as a hotel since 1972.

The following is from the Historic Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. The site was removed from the Inventory on 12/07/2016.

Type of Site

No information available.

Location and Setting

Dalhousie Castle lies on the B704, 4 miles (6.5km) south of Dalkeith, on a promontory overlooking the River South Esk, south of its confluence with the Dalhousie Burn. The parkland extends down to Prestonholm House to the south, along Castle Dean Wood to Dalhousie Strip Wood on the west and from Cockpen Bridge along Dalhousie Burn to its confluence with the South Esk. The eastern boundary runs along Catholes Wood to the Old Manse.

The surrounding landscape is agricultural but has been extensively damaged by coal mining and mineral working in the vicinity of Newtongrange and Gorebridge. The immediate area is well wooded and the woodlands associated with the designed landscape do not make a particular contribution to the local scenery. No outlying features play a prominent part in the designed landscape.

The Castle lies in the centre of the policies at the northern end of the park. It stands above the river, detached from the surrounding woodlands on the east, and is linked to the surrounding landscape by a small finger of woodland to the south-west running along the river. Open parkland, now cultivated, extends north and west, and the river meadow, Anna Park, lies below to the south.

Evidence of the former extent of the designed landscape has been drawn primarily from the 1st edition OS map of 1854; there are known to be estate papers in the Scottish Record Office but these have not been reviewed for this study. Today the designed landscape extends to an area of about 892 acres (361ha).

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Dalhousie Castle, listed category A, was originally built in the 15th century. It was georgianised by George Paterson between 1778-1779 and rebaronialised by William Burn between 1825-1828. The top storey was burnt out in 1867 but subsequently restored.

The Laundry, listed category C(S), lies in the parkland adjacent to the river and is a large, circular beehive-like building. The Arched Bridge, listed category C(S), is a picturesque arched bridge which crosses the South Esk below the Castle. The ruined Old Cockpen Kirk, listed category B, was originally built in the 13th century with additions in the 17th century and now contains an Obelisk as a memorial to the Marquess of Dalhousie. The Walled Gardens, constructed by Walter Nicol in about 1807, are now derelict.


The parkland was referred to by J.C. Loudon in 1823 'as extensive and romantic pleasure grounds' which 'affords delightful summer walks'. The picturesque design of James Robertson accented the physical landscape and emphasised the dramatic topography. The parkland consisted of small open areas amid the sweeping curves of the surrounding woodland. Castle Park and Anna Park were particular features in this. The romantic design of the trees and pastures is illustrated in a painting by Nasmyth.


The larger blocks within the plantations of Castle Dean Wood and Blow Loun were replaced with conifers in c.1950. The majority of the woodland strips have one or two specimen broadleaved trees remaining from c.1800, but the sinuous curves have mainly disappeared. The plantation near the Castle Quarry is a mixed deciduous woodland made up mainly of sycamore trees and seedlings dating from c.1800 to 1960. The woodland walks along the banks of the South Esk are just discernible and the ruins of the old mill-leat at Millholm are barely visible. This was probably constructed to power the Spinning Mill opposite.

Walled Garden

The Walled Garden was constructed by Walter Nicol in about 1807. It is now derelict and used as a car dump or scrap dealers yard.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

The following is from the Historic Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. The site was removed from the Inventory on 12/07/2016.

Reason for Inclusion

A picturesque designed landscape of high historical interest, even though much of the planting has been lost and the layout is in decay. The parkland and woodland form the setting for the category A listed castle.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

No information available.

Site History

The mid-18th century 'picturesque' landscape was altered during the mid-19th century and has been neglected since most of the surrounding landscape was mined for minerals.

The de Ramsay family are first recorded in the Lothians in the 12th century. Oliver Cromwell used the Castle during his campaigns in Scotland. Alterations were undertaken during the late 19th century for the 8th Earl and further improvements were undertaken by his son George who had served in the Peninsular War. The landscape was designed by James Robertson before 1750. J.C. Loudon wrote in his book 'The Arboretum Britannicum' that Dalhousie had an 'extensive collection of trees and shrubs, more or less remarkable'. James, 10th Earl, was Governor General of India; he was created Marquess of Dalhousie and was the last Dalhousie to have an impact on the landscape. Recently the Castle has been let by the family, on a long lease, and is being run as an hotel.


18th Century (1701 to 1800)

Associated People
Features & Designations


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

  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Laundry
  • Grade: C(S)


  • Castle (featured building)
  • Description: Dalhousie Castle was originally built in the 15th century. It was georgianised by George Paterson in the late-18th century and altered by William Burn between 1825 and 1828.
  • Walk
  • Description: Some woodland walks can be traced along the river.
  • Avenue
  • Description: A few plantings that were once part of an avenue survive in Anna Park.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Key Information





Principal Building



18th Century (1701 to 1800)


Part: standing remains



Open to the public


Electoral Ward





  • Historic Scotland