Dalhousie Castle

13th Century venue

Originally access to the castle was obtained by crossing a drawbridge over a deep dry moat.

Dalhousie Castle

Retaining heritage

Dalhousie Castle has been leased to a series of tenants, before its conversion to a hotel in 1972. Now owned by Robert and Gina Parker.

A venue of unique character

A venue of unique character

Dalhousie Castle has sympathetically been transformed into a luxurious hotel.

The history of this remarkable venue

Download the Dalhousie Historical Time Line by clicking here.

The Ramsays of Dalhousie have reason to be proud of their heritage and their long links with Scottish history. They held possession of Dalhousie longer than any other family has retained possession of a castle in Scotland. The Castle, which is situated in the parish of Cockpen, eight miles south of Edinburgh, dates from the 13th century, although only the enormously thick walls at the foundation level and the vaults remain of the original building. The main parts of the present structure were built about 1450 from red stone quarried from the opposite bank of the South Esk River on which the Castle stands. In the succeeding centuries there have been various additions and modifications, but the essential form of the Castle which had an L-shaped keep surrounded by an outer curtain wall can still be clearly discerned.

The Drum Tower, which dates from the 15th century, has a well at ground level, which supplied the Castle and still yields potable water. The 1st Earl of Dalhousie first built up the area between the keep and the curtain wall in the early 17th century. The Castle closely resembles nearby Dirleton Castle, which is now in ruins.

Originally access to the castle was obtained by crossing a drawbridge over a deep dry moat. this moat was re-excavated during the castle’s conversion into a hotel. The “rainures” (recesses for the counterbalance beams) of the original drawbridge raising mechanism can still be seen above the main door, as can the machicolations used by the defenders to assail those beneath. Another interesting feature is the mural staircase from the banqueting hall to the vaults. There is also a spiral stair leading from what was the first floor of the keep, down to the top of the bottle dungeon which measures 10’10” by 10’3”, it has a latrine and a ventilation shaft but no window. Prisoners were lowered into it by rope, the score marks of the ropes can still be seen in the stonework, once in there was no escape through the 11” thick walls.

An old account claims that Simundus de Ramesie, a freeman, followed King David I to Scotland from Ramsay, a Huntingdonshire village, in about 1140 and was the founder of the line and the first to have land at Dalwolsey. Certainly the Ramsay name appears in Midlothian records all through the 13th century. William Ramsay, who witnessed deeds regarding land in 1280, was the first to be known as Ramsay de Dalwolsey and he was so styled, not then as receiving his lands, but as his usual and known designation. This William’s name stands on the Ragman’s Roll of 1296 as doing homage for those lands to Edward I. The English King spent a night in Dalhousie Castle before going on to Falkirk where he defeated William Wallace. William Ramsay later joined the forces of Robert the Bruce and was present at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and in 1320 he was a signatory to the famous Declaration of Arbroath in which the Scottish Barons appealed to the Pope in Rome against the oppressions of the English.

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