HomeAbout UsHappeningsKith and KinContact UsMembers OnlyLinksSearch
Dalhousie Castle
Dalhousie Castle drawingThe traditional seat of the Ramsays is Dalhousie Castle in Midlothian. The Ramsays have retained possession of Dalhousie Castle longer than any family has retained possession of a castle in Scotland. The castle is located about eight miles south of Edinburgh on A7 at Bonnyrigg. The setting is a picturesque wooded area along the South Esk River in the parish of Cockpen. The original structure was built in the 13th century and the main parts of the present baronial mansion were constructed in 1450. The castle is of pink sandstone quarried from the opposite bank of the river and its roof is of solid lead. Dalhousie Castle, with its 15th century drum tower, closely resembled Direlton Castle, which is now in ruins.

Above the entrance to the castle, the Ramsay Coat of Arms is carved in stone. At one time, there was a drawbridge spanning a dry moat. Its mechanical counterbalance and defensive machicolation, opening used to pour molten lead or burning oil upon enemies below, are still visible above the door. Inside the castle, there are 56 main rooms. The entrance hall supports an elaborate ceiling detailed with plaster and wood. The grand foyer contains two Gothic arches of glass ornately adorned with plaster medallions of unicorns alternated with flowers. A divided staircase with brass railings leads off the main hall.

Two white marble fireplaces grace each end of the banquet hall. Over each mantlepiece there is a mirror which reaches upwards to the lavishly decorated ceiling. There is a mural staircase leading down from the banquet to the dungeon. From what was at one time the first floor keep, a spiral staircase leads down to the top of the dungeon. Prisoners were lowered into the dungeon by rope and the score marks of the ropes are still visible in the stonework. In the basement there is a secret staircase that was at one time blocked off. No one knows where it leads.

Everywhere in the castle, fascinating rooms are found. The interior of the library is of rich wood paneling. Behind one section of the shelving there is a secret room. The breakfast room is fifty feet long and in the tower there is a round trophy room with its curved doors and trophy cases.

Upstairs are grand bedrooms. One of the grandest has an exquisite ceiling inspired by the Marquess of Dalhousie who wanted an elegant ceiling to gaze upon from his bed. The chamber contains a ceiling high mirror inlaid with gold. Queen Victoria once stayed at Dalhousie Castle and in honor of her visit, the view of the surrounding estate from one of the bedrooms is called the "Queen's View." Edward I spent a night at Dalhousie before going on the defeat William Wallace at Falkirk. Oliver Cromwell spent some time at the castle in October 1648. The Ramsays have reason to be proud of their historic eight hundred year old clan seat. For only the Ramsays of Dalhousie may boast about possession of the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland.

For more information on the castle and how to visit there, go to the Dalhousie Castle web site.

The current seat of the Clan Ramsay is Castle Brechin.