Dalkeith Palace is a largely 18th century mansion which incorporates parts of an older tower house.
The earliest castle at Dalkeith was built in the 12th century and was home at one point to Sir James Douglas, known as the Black Douglas. The castle stood on the edge of a high promontory above a curve in the River North Esk, offering considerable defensive protection to the south, north and west.
The castle was added to in the 15th century, forming an L-plan keep with a curtain wall. In the 1570s the castle and associated palace were greatly enlarged for a later James Douglas, the 4th Earl of Morton. The Douglas family sold Dalkeith Palace to Francis, the 2nd Earl of Buccleuch, in 1642.
A view of the castle drawn by John Slezer around 1690, wrongly titled Glamms House (Glamis Castle), shows an L-plan tower at the far end of a courtyard lined with ranges of buildings. A tall gatehouse leads into an outer courtyard on the opposite side of which is another tall gatehouse with a curtain wall to its left and a four storey range to its right.
Between 1702 and 1710 the palace was extensively remodelled for Anne, the Duchess of Buccleuch, with part of the existing castle demolished and the rest incorporated into the new Dalkeith House. Some of the old tower’s walls are said to be recognisable on the western façade of its successor.
The new house was designed by James Smith, and was later added to over the years by the celebrated Scottish architects John Adam, James Playfair and William Burn.
It is now a European study centre for the University of Wisconsin and the centrepiece of the Dalkeith Country Estate.