Geology of Dalkeith Country Park

Find out more about the fascinating geology of Dalkeith Country Park from The Lothian and Borders GeoConservation group. Learn about the history behind the sandstone that was used to build Restoration Yard and The Orangerie.

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Geology of Dalkeith Country Park

The Lothian and Borders GeoConservation group is delighted to publish a new leaflet exploring some of the geology of Dalkeith Country Park. The leaflet, prepared by volunteers Alison and Barry Tymon with support from other members of the group, introduces the sandstones that were used in construction of Restoration Yard and the Orangerie. It also explains how these sandstone layers were formed, and where some local examples can be seen in the Park.

Restoration Yard Sandstone

Restoration Yard Sandstone

Sandstone is the most important rock type used to construct the buildings in Dalkeith Country Park, from the magnificent Dalkeith Palace to more mundane buildings such as the Stables.

Sandstones consist of grains of minerals, most commonly quartz, that have been packed together and then cemented by other minerals. Good quality sandstones with small grains cemented tightly together can be intricately carved, whereas poorer sandstones have larger grains with cements such as iron or calcite which sometimes don’t hold grains together firmly. By looking closely at local buildings you will be able to see variations in the nature of different sandstones.

sandstone Geology

Sandstone Colouration

The close-up photo of a section of a wall in Restoration Yard shows the yellow, orange and brown colouration which comes from iron-rich solutions which drained through the sediments after burial under further deposits of sand. Some of the stones show intensely folded beds, formed when the wet sand grains were stirred up by local movements in the earth’s crust.

Dalkeith Palace, St Mary’s Church and Montagu Bridge are likely to have been faced by Craigleith Sandstone extracted from one of several quarries at Granton, north of Edinburgh.

The Orangerie

The Orangerie

The Orangerie was designed by William Burn and built around 1832-4, possibly from Craigleith Sandstone which is 340 million years old. The building has twelve sides and twelve Roman Doric columns, with radial iron trusses to support the glazing. Designed to cultivate oranges, the combination of soot from the chimney which darkened the glass and the polluted local water supply meant that the experiment failed and the building was used to grow ferns instead.

Find Out More

Want to learn more? Take a look at the leaflet created by The Lothian and Borders GeoConservation group and find out more about the buildings, grounds and river banks that make up Dalkeith Country Park.

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