Explore the strong historic connections between Dalkeith Country Park and the town of Dalkeith during your visit. With its beautiful buildings and landscape, The Park is home to a rich tapestry of tales. However, they only tell part of the story of Dalkeith; a small town with a big history.
Discover our historic connections
Dalkeith town and the country park are filled with clues that reveal their historic connections. You can enjoy a walk from The Park through the town and uncover intriguing hidden histories as you go.
From Romans and railways to royal processions, Dalkeith town and its country park have a vibrant history. Surrounded by rich, fertile land, Dalkeith once hosted the biggest grain market in Scotland and was the site of the country’s first railway. It has played a prominent role in local government and on two occasions, Scotland was ruled from Dalkeith.
Dalkeith Historic Timeline
1100 - 1400The Graham family build a castle on Dalkeith Estate and Dalkeith town is first mentioned in written records. The Douglas family inherit the estate in the 1300s and build St Nicholas Buccleuch Chapel on Dalkeith High Street.
1494Margaret Tudor, King Henry VIII’s sister, stays at Dalkeith Castle before her wedding to King James IV of Scotland.
1500 - 1600Dalkeith becomes a ‘Burgh of Barony & Regality’ and is allowed to hold a weekly market. Sir William Douglas, Regent of Scotland, rules from Dalkeith until James VI assumes the crown. King James VI mourns the death of his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, from Dalkeith Castle in 1588.
1600sWilliam Douglas sells his Dalkeith estate to Francis Scott, the 2nd Earl of Buccleuch. General Monck rules Scotland from Dalkeith Castle from 1654 – 1659. In 1648/9 five women are executed in Dalkeith for witchcraft.
1700sDalkeith Castle is transformed into a magnificent Palace by Anna Scott, 1st Duchess of Buccleuch. The estate is used as a Jacobite camp by Bonnie Prince Charlie as he prepares to march south. By the end of this century, the town of Dalkeith has a population of 3,100.
1800-1827The last public hanging takes place outside the Tolbooth and Scotland’s first railway opens to transport coal between Edinburgh and Dalkeith. A Watch Tower is built to deter body snatchers and King’s Gate is built on the Dalkeith estate to welcome King George IV.
1850-1900Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stay at Dalkeith Palace and The Corn Exchange is built to house Scotland’s largest grain market. The first Dalkeith Town Council is elected.
1900sWinston Churchill delivers a speech at the Corn Exchange and there’s an attempt by suffragettes to blow up St Mary’s Church. During both World Wars Dalkeith Palace and grounds are used by the army and Polish troops.
2000sRestoration Yard and Fort Douglas open at Dalkeith Country Park in 2016. The Burns Monument returns to Dalkeith High Street and Dalkeith Palace holds its first art exhibition.
Few towns are better supplied with bread, butcher-meat, groceries and garden produce. We have an extensive iron foundry, a gas works, a brewery, several curriers and tanners; manufacturers of felt and beaver hats, straw hats, and woollen stuffs. The town is well-paved and lighted, and kept exceedingly clean.’The New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1845
Thanks to Midlothian
The Discover Dalkeith project has been made possible thanks to funds contributed by Midlothian Council.