Dalhousie Castle was the seat of the Earls of Dalhousie, the chieftains of Clan Ramsay. The patriarch of the clan was Simundus de Ramesie (Simon of Ramsey), an English knight of Norman descent from the Huntingdonshire village of Ramsey. Simundus, a vassal of David, Earl of Huntingdon, followed his lord to Scotland in about 1140, when David inherited the Scottish crown. He is considered the founder of the Ramsay clan and the first to have lands at Dalwolsey.

The first castle at Dalhousie was constructed by him. The red stone castle is situated in a strategic spot overlooking the River Esk. The drum tower, the oldest part of the current structure, an L Plan Castle, dates to the mid 15th century. The majority of the current castle dates to the 17th century. There was originally a dry moat surrounding the castle. The moat was later filled in but partially excavated in the late 20th century.

Dalhousie Castle has seen much history. King Edward I (Longshanks) stayed at the castle on his way to meet Sir William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk. In 1400, Sir Alexander Ramsay withstood a six-month siege at Dalhousie by English forces led by King Henry IV. Oliver Cromwell used the castle as a base for his invasion of Scotland. Many Earls of Dalhousie have taken an active part in British political and military leadership.

Around 1800, Walter Nicol designed the new layout of the walled garden.

At the turn of the 20th century, the seat of Clan Ramsay was moved to Brechin Castle, although the Ramsay family continued to retain ownership of the castle until 1977. At the time of the sale, Dalhousie had been in the same family for more than eight centuries, longer than any other castle in Scotland. Throughout the 20th century, the castle was leased out to a series of tenants, including a boarding school. In 1972, the castle was converted into a hotel. In 2003, Dalhousie Castle was purchased by the Von Essen Hotels company.

On 26 June 2004, a major fire erupted in the castle's roof area. The building was evacuated and the Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade were called to extinguish the blaze. The damage was significant but limited to a relatively small area of the building, and no major structural damage occurred. The damage was repaired and the hotel resumed normal operations.

In April 2011, Von Essen Hotels fell into administration. In March 2012, it was announced that Robert Parker, owner of Doxford, Eshott and Guyzance Hall in Northumberland, had purchased Dalhousie Castle for an undisclosed sum.



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Cockpen, United Kingdom
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Founded: 15th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

betty binysh (10 months ago)
Brilliant, castle with warm and comfy four-poster bedroom. Gourmet food to rival London in a 'dungeon' decorated with arms and armour. Great friendly 'Scottish' atmosphere without being false.
Rob Will (11 months ago)
We visited during covid so was very quiet with minimal facilities. But the food in the restaurant was 5* and setting atmospheric. Beautiful old building full of character. Would love to return when fully open to enjoy all the facilities
Nicholas Whitaker (13 months ago)
Pros - Great location, beautiful hotel full of character and history, wonderful eating experience in the dungeon restaurant. Great service from Roberto and Lefteris at dinner and in the main positive interaction with the staff was excellent both breakfast and dinner. Ideal location to drive in and out of Edinburgh. Amazing collection of falcons in the garden. Cons- on 2 occasions service prior to going to dinner was appalling. We were left without drinks for over 30 minutes. On going to the bar to request service, my wife was told she could not have a drink as there was a queue by a rather abrupt barman. Menu was limited and was not varied during the 4 nights we stayed. £10 surcharge for steaks feel excessive given the price you are paying for the meal. Request for toilet rolls and top up milk and tea took 2 requests one day. Covid - the impact of covid kept the spa closed and there were various other rules that were sensible and clear to follow. Final thought, if the bar staff had just offered us a drink whilst we were looking through the the menu our dining experience would have been far more enjoyable.
Alex Crossley (13 months ago)
We had some niggles to begin with, but they were dealt with excellently, thanks to the staff - especially the Deputy Manager Stephen - we would definitely recommend going here, and we fully intend to go again soon!
John Spence (14 months ago)
Fantastic room, beautiful grounds. Perfect for a relaxing night away and stunning wedding venue. Staff were all really helpful. Will be back again soon
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Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.

The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.

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