Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
NT 16488 77731
316488, 677731

A beautiful design composition dating from the 17th century which makes a major contribution to the surrounding scenery and in views from the other side of the Firth of Forth. Dalmeny is also outstanding in its architectural and nature conservation values.

Artistic Interest

Level of interest

The present designed landscape has outstanding value as a Work of Art both historically and in its present form.


Level of interest

Dalmeny has outstanding Historical value in view of its connections with the Primrose family since the 17th century and the good historical records of the development of the landscape since that time.


Level of interest

The woodland garden and arboretum have some Horticultural value in their present form.


Level of interest

The designed landscape provides the setting for category A listed buildings and thus has outstanding Architectural value.


Level of interest
Not Assessed


Level of interest

The designed landscape has outstanding Scenic value due to its scale and situation on the shores of the Firth of Forth.

Nature Conservation

Level of interest

The Forth Bridge/Crammond Coast SSSI is important for its intertidal mudflats for overwintering wildfowl, and for the geological exposures of the Carboniferous oil shales group and the basaltic sills. The site has outstanding value for Nature Conservation.

Location and Setting

Dalmeny is situated in the Edinburgh Green Belt on the shore of the Firth of Forth some 7 miles (11.5km) to the west of Edinburgh. The former A90 from Cramond Bridge which is now the B924, and the A90 dual carriageway linking the city with the Forth Road Bridge, form the south-western boundary of the policies. The River Almond forms the south-eastern boundary, flowing into the Firth of Forth at Cramond. It is said that Dalmeny means 'many hills'. The surface and underlying geology is complicated with basalt outcrops, dolerite sills and oil shales, raised beach deposits, boulder clay and even a small area of peat. The landform within the policies is naturally undulating and a 19th century description noted that 'it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find any stretch of level ground in the 2,000 acres which are enclosed. One or two of the elevations are 500' high and no two are the same'. Mons Hill, Mansionhill and Craigiehill, the latter lying to the south-west of the road, are the most significant and exposed. Castle Craig is a volcanic vent.

Dalmeny Village lies to the west and, beyond it, lies South Queensferry. The suburban housing developments of Edinburgh are situated to the south-east, beyond the River Almond and the village of Cramond. From Dalmeny House and Park, magnificent views can be gained along the Firth of Forth to the islands of Cramond, Inchcolm and May, north to Fife and east to Edinburgh. From Mons Hill, the panorama extends south to the Pentlands and west to the Central Belt. These views are all vital for the setting of the house and parks. The designed landscape itself is of high scenic significance as it can be viewed from the Firth of Forth, the Forth Bridges, and the south coast of Fife as well as being significant from the adjacent locality.

Dalmeny House stands within some 1,829 acres (740ha) of designed landscape which extends north to the Firth of Forth, east to the River Almond, and south and west to the A90, B924 and the village of Dalmeny. A policy wall extends along the roads on the southern and western boundaries. This extensive landscape was laid out in the late 18th/early 19th century. Documentary evidence of the development of the designed landscape is provided by General Roy's map of c.1750, and the 1st & 2nd edition OS maps. Comparison of these maps indicates that, in the 18th century, the designed landscape was centred on the original Barnbougle Castle and appears to be confined to less than half of the present acreage. After c.1800, the designed landscape indicated on the 1st edition OS map of 1859 was laid out and has not substantially altered since then. Barnbougle Castle was retained in the 19th century design and forms a fine foreground feature in the view to the Forth from the house. The Dalmeny Estate has also incorporated part of Craigie Hall estate, acquired in stages, part of Newhall's estate from 1890, and Leuchold, used as the house for the estate factor for well over a century. Also incorporated was a shore walk from Cramond via Lady Margaret's Well to Queensferry in the north of the policies which remains open today.

Site History

There are many design proposals dating from c.1770 for both the house and grounds. The designed landscape at Dalmeny was laid out following the construction of the new house in 1815-1820, following a plan by Thomas White Jnr dated 1815.

Barnbougle Castle was built by the Mowbray family in the 13th century. It was acquired in 1662 by Sir Archibald Primrose whose family, originally from Fife, can be traced back to the 15th century. The Earldom was conferred on Sir Archibald's son in 1703. The 2nd Earl succeeded in 1724 but in 1755 he was bankrupted and the estates were managed by Trustees. Roy's map of c.1750 indicates the composition of the designed landscape in the closing years of the 2nd Earl's life. Its main features then were two avenues, centred on Barnbougle Castle; one leading west and the other south, with some wooded enclosures on either side of these avenues.

The 3rd Earl, Neil, inherited the estates in 1755 and soon after embarked on a Grand Tour of Europe which lasted some 18 months. In 1774, he commissioned his friend of longstanding, Robert Adam, to design a new house to replace Barnbougle, the drawings of which are retained by the family. Robert Burn was also asked to prepare plans in 1788 but neither scheme was carried out. Several proposal plans were drawn up at this time for the landscape also. The 3rd Earl spent most of his life regaining and putting right his estates and particularly in planting and replanting the woodlands. He also built a new walled garden in the late 18th century; the walls were heated by a complicated system of fires and flues. Some repairs were made to Barnbougle in 1789 but, otherwise, contemporary views describe it as being somewhat neglected at the end of the 19th century.

In 1805, shortly after his marriage, the 3rd Earl's son commissioned William Atkinson to prepare plans for a house, and later asked William Burn to prepare some plans in c.1808. Again these plans were turned down by his father, and the heir and his wife rented Duddingston House as their home until they inherited the Dalmeny estate in 1814. Immediately, the 4th Earl, Archibald, commissioned Jeffrey Wyatt to design his much anticipated new house but the plans were passed to William Wilkins, a friend, who produced the final design. The designed landscape was laid out in conjunction with this house, starting from 1812, based on a plan by Thomas White Jnr, thought to have been designed originally for a classical house.

The 5th Earl, the present Earl's grandfather, inherited the estates in 1868. He married Hannah, the only daughter of Baron Meyer de Rothschild. Influenced by visits to America, they established the arboretum to the west of the house and planted various exotic softwoods elsewhere, mainly in the garden valley. Lady Rosebery was responsible for establishing species in the understorey of the arboretum, contributions for which were received from cousins who owned the Exbury nurseries. The 5th Earl was Prime Minister from 1894-95 and did not spend much of the year at Dalmeny. He was responsible for the construction of a new drive and a lake. The 6th Earl inherited in 1929. The 7th Earl and Countess inherited in 1974; by that time, they had been involved in the estate management for some ten years and have continued to improve the estate, particularly the woodlands and parks.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Dalmeny House, listed category A, was built in the Tudor style by William Wilkins between 1814-17. Barnbougle Castle, listed B, dates originally from the 15th century but was reconstructed from ruins by James Maitland Wardrop in 1881 as a retreat. The stables, listed category B, date from c.1820 and are thought to have been designed also by Wilkins in the Tudor style, similar to the house. The Walled Garden dates from the 19th century and is listed category C(S); the main north entrance was widened and heightened in 1978. The Farm Buildings, listed category C(S) for the group, date from the mid-19th century. They include the Farmhouse, Piers, Central Steading, North Range and South Range. The Laundry at the Home Farm is also listed category C(S) and dates from the later 19th century.

There are eight gatelodges: Barnbougle Lodge is listed category B and was designed between 1820-30 in the Tudor style. Chapel Gatelodge, listed category B, is thought to have been designed by William Wilkins between 1820-30. Burnshot Gatelodge, listed category C(S), dates from the early 19th century with later Victorian additions. Edinburgh and Leuchold Gatelodges also date from this period; they have Tudor features and are listed B. East Craigie and Long Craig Gatelodges, listed C(S), also date from the early 19th century. Newhalls Gatelodge, listed category B, dates from 1830-40. The imposing statue of the horse King Tom by Ernst Boehm was erected at Mentmore in 1873 and moved to Dalmeny in 1982.


The present extensive parkland was laid out in the early 19th century and incorporated trees which existed as part of the earlier landscape of Barnbougle Castle, for example the avenue of beech trees in the park to the north of the Castle. The total acreage of parkland is extensive but is broken up by woodlands and shelter strips. The tree clumps established as part of the original design are indicated on the 1st edition OS map, particularly in the parks on either side of the main west drive from the house to Dalmeny Village. There is an extensive system of ha-ha walls surrounding the parks. A 9-hole golf course has been established on the park to the north-east of the house and extends to the shore of the Firth of Forth. South of Castle Craig is a large fish pond, formed from an area of bog, for the 5th Earl.

An account of 1892 describes the parks as being 'thickly timbered' and notes that it contained 'many old trees and an avenue of old oaks, many of which girth 17ft'. One of these oaks remains in the park to the north of New England Wood. Its age is unknown but it has long been thought to be one of the oldest in the county.


The existing woodlands at Dalmeny were also largely established at the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries by the 3rd and 4th Earls. These plantings were largely of mixed deciduous species, of elm, sycamore and beech, and some plantings of 'Scotch fir'. The woods are nearly all enclosed by walls and ha- has but these are being renewed by fencing when required. The estate suffered badly from the 1968 gales and many of the woodlands have been replanted within the last twenty years, mainly with hardwoods or a mix incorporating some conifer nurse species. On the north side of the New England Wood, experimental planting of a mix of conifer species in 'Anderson plots' was badly affected by the 1968 gale and has not proved successful; it will be felled on maturity. Dutch Elm disease has recently affected many of the elms at Dalmeny. There are many woodland walks at Dalmeny, which are carpeted with spring bulbs.

Walled Gardens

The walled garden lies to the west of the arboretum on a slight south-facing slope. Its four walls stand some 20' high. The date of its construction is uncertain but John Hay is noted by Alan Tait as having designed a magnificent suite of glasshouses for the 4th Earl c.1818. Descriptions of the garden in 1892 and 1912 indicate that it was largely devoted to fruit and vegetable production for the family when in residence. Box hedges contained borders lining the interior walls, one of which contained James Veitch Strawberries. A well-stocked herbaceous border stood in front of the vineries which themselves were well stocked with palms, begonias, and many glasshouse plants. A variety of roses were grown, as well as many cut flowers. Since World War II, much of the four acres of garden has been put down to grass. The vineries have remained, and vegetables are still grown for the house.


A path leads from a formal terrace around the house through the Garden Valley to the walled garden. This area is bounded to the north by the Garden Park and New England Wood and by the main Chapel Drive to the south. A rose garden extending east from the house terrace was removed in the 1930s. There is a private garden near the house. A grass path runs through the woods and an oval pond is situated next to it, near the walled garden. The arboretum was established by the 5th Earl of Rosebery and he continued to develop it up until his death in 1924. Many of the trees were planted to commemorate the visits of distinguished guests, and also special occasions. The trees remaining in 1984 were measured by Alan Mitchell; the list includes a variety of interesting conifers and a particularly large specimen with a height of 46 feet. Species Rhododendrons were established in the understorey of the tree canopy by the 5th Countess, some of which remain today and new ones have been planted recently.




Printed Sources

Small, Castle & Mansions in Lothian, 1883

C. McWilliam, Lothian

GC, Dec 31st 1892

HHC & G, 1984

SG & NF, Dec 28th 1912

Lady Deidre Rosebery, Dalmeny House Guide, Alna Press

Lord Roseberry, Forestry at Dalmeny

Estate Plans at Dalmeny House

A.A. Tait, 1980

A. Mitchell, Tree Survey, 1984



Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Eagle Rock

Find out more

Related Designations

  1. Hunter’s Craig or Eagle Rock, rock carving, DalmenySM13612

    Designation Type
    Scheduled Monument

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

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Printed: 21/05/2024 14:38