Featured image of Dalhousie Castle

The History Of Dalhousie Castle

LocationBonnyrigg, Edinburgh, Scotland (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byVon Essen Hotels
Official WebsiteDalhousie Castle
Rooms AvailableYes (Stay, Weddings)

Dalhousie Castle is standing peacefully in the rolling Midlothian countryside, on the west side of the River South Esk, several miles south-east of Edinburgh. It has a rich and often turbulent past dating back to the era of Genghis Khan, Marco Polo, and the Magna Carta.


Dalhousie Castle has an exciting history of 800 years of battles and wars. It is known that the founder of the Ramsay family line, Simundus de Ramesia was the first to have landed at Dalhousie. He followed King David 1st to Scotland from the village of Ramsay in Huntingdonshire around 1140. William Ramsay of Dalhousie included his seal to the Ragman Roll of 1296 and the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. The King even spent a night in the castle before going to Falkirk, where he defeated William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace.

Many battles were fought, lost, and won in decades. When the English gained the upper hand in the tedious war against Scotland, many Scottish castles, including Dalhousie, passed into their hands. Sir Alexander Ramsay, William’s son, led raids against the castle for many years until the English finally surrendered and returned Dalhousie to the family.

In 1400, Dalhousie Castle was successfully held against King Henry IV of England by Sir Alexander. However, he was killed at the Battle of Homildon Hill in 1402. In 1567, George Ramsay, the grandson of Sir Alexander and the then laird of Dalhousie, had a ratification for the barony of Dalhousie, with the castle, tower, yards, orchards, woods, and parks.

A charter of 1618 accorded the Ramsay family royal recognition and gave the title of Lord Ramsay of Dalhousie to Sir George Ramsay. The family also became favourites of King James VI of Scotland. In 1633, George’s son William Ramsay was made the 1st Earl of Dalhousie and Lord Ramsay of Keringtoun. He extended and remodelled the castle. But a few years later, he switched sides, fought for Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarians in the civil war, and commanded a regiment at Marston Moor in 1644. Cromwell besieged and captured the castle in the 1650s, using the castle as a base for his invasion of Scotland. Many of the later Earls were soldiers and fought in foreign wars and parts of the Empire. They also served in the Wars of the Spanish Succession.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Earls of Dalhousie have lived in another home at Brechin. Dalhousie Castle was leased to many tenants before its conversion from a private Boarding School to a luxurious hotel in 1972.


Dalhousie Castle
Dalhousie Castle by RHaworth licensed under CC BY 2.5

Dalhousie Castle is a large and rambling baronial mansion built of red sandstone. It incorporates an altered 16th-century L-plan tower house within a 13th-century courtyard consisting of corner towers and a moat. The main entrance into the castle is through a tall archway, crowned by two bartizans and a large round tower. In the 17th century, the castle was extended, and William Burns made further substantial internal modifications.

Several guest rooms in the castle hotel carry historical themes. The Dalhousie Suite in the castle tower features a 16th-century-style four-poster bed with oak furniture, a private corridor decorated with miniature tapestries leading to an antique-decorated bathroom. The ancient barrel-vaulted dungeon serves as an unusual but highly regarded restaurant with candlelight dining.

The castle is filled with many eccentricities that attract guests from all over the world. It is a ten-foot square windowless chamber where prisoners were lowered by rope.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who owns Dalhousie Castle?

Dalhousie Castle is owned by Von Essen Hotels, who continued the long tradition of service and hospitality associated with the castle. Comforts of modern life are provided to guests who stay at the castle hotel.

Who built Dalhousie Castle?

The Ramsays of Dalhousie built Dalhousie Castle. They were a noble Scottish family descended from Simundus de Ramesia of Anglo-Norman origin. They had followed King David I to Scotland from the Huntingdon village of Ramsay.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
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He is a versatile E-Learning Support Officer and former Academic Officer at the University of York, United Kingdom. Not just an expert in education and technology, Debayan also has a deep love for castles and mountains. With a passion for travel, having explored 168+ cities worldwide, and a keen eye for photography, He brings a unique blend of experiences to the table. Specializing in E-learning content, IT support, AR development, and software engineering, Debayan has made a significant impact, educating over 200,000 students on Udemy.

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