Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

Dalhousie Castle (Midlothian) - Past and Present

Dalhousie is strongly sited above the River South Esk at Bonnyrigg about eight miles from Edinburgh. The castle consists of an impressive 15th-century L-plan tower enclosed by strong outer walls transformed in the 17th century into a Renaissance Palace. In 1825 it underwent a ‘make over’ in the Gothic style only to be badly damaged by fire in 1867. The castle is now an upmarket hotel popular with brides forming the fairytale backdrop to their dream wedding day.

Dalhousie 1790
Dalhousie Castle in 1790. A great tower house rises high above a curtain wall. Note evidence of surrounding ditch

Dalhousie is notable as the last castle in Scotland to have been besieged by an English king in person – Henry IV in 1400. For six months he attacked Sir Alexander Ramsay to no avail, Dalhousie’s walls stood proving more than a match*.

Dalhousie 1900
Dalhousie Castle in 1900. The tower house gone – only its vaulted basement survives in the interior

However, Henry was not the last ‘king’ to pay it a visit. Cromwell, a king by any other name, effortlessly took possession of ‘the strong house called Dalhouz’, the garrison having decamped sans weapons and powder in their haste.

Dalhousie 2015
Dalhousie Castle in 2015. The round tower is now the bridal suite complete with a circular bed!

* The last English castle to be so besieged by a Scottish king was Norham which fell in 1513 to James IV.

Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle.

Added: 17 Jun 2016 Updated: 24 Jan 2018
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