Ten top historic attractions in Dundee
Looking for things to do in Dundee with a history flavour? Take a look at History Scotland's ten top picks.
1 BROUGHTY CASTLE AND MUSEUM
Built in 1496 at the mouth of the River Tay, Broughty Castle has seen more than 500 years of sieges and battles. The castle is home to a museum which tells the story of the lives and times of the people of Dundee including a military gallery, natural history, a model of the rail ferry used before bridges were built across the Tay, and a 5,000-year-old food vessel.
Castle Approach, Dundee DD5 2TF; tel: 01382 434000
2 CLAYPOTTS CASTLE
A late medieval tower house built to an unusual ‘z plan’ with circular towers corbelled out to form overhanging cap houses. The castle was built for John Strachan in the late sixteenth century, taking almost twenty years to build, and went through several changes of ownership before being gifted to the state in 1926. It is now cared for by Historic Scotland.
Castle Gardens, Dundee DD5 3JY; tel: 01786 450000
3 DUNDEE LAW
The Law is an extinct volcano, 572 feet at its peak, which is a predominant landmark of Dundee and offers panoramic views over the city, River Tay and surrounding countryside. The Law was first inhabited 3,500 years ago and has been settled by both Pictish tribes and later by the Romans. A war memorial at the top of the Law commemorates the fallen of the two World Wars.
A tunnel was driven through the hill during the 1820s, used for horse-drawn rail services from Dundee to Newtyle – this stayed in use for forty years after which a new railway line was built around the base of the Law.
4 HOWFF BURIAL GROUND
The Howff Burial Ground (pictured above) is one of the country’s finest cemeteries and has been open for burials since 1564. Among those buried here, and commemorated with grand tombstones, are James Chalmers (inventor of the postage stamp) and John Glas (founder of the Glasite Movement).
Meadowside, Dundee DD1 1LN
5 MILLS OBSERVATORY
Britain’s only full-time observatory open to the public, Mills Observatory was gifted to the people of Dundee in 1935 by linen manufacturer John Mills. Under the distinctive seven-metre dome is a 400mm Dobsonian Reflector which offers views into deep space.
The remains of the Observatory’s original Grubb Parsons reflecting telescope, which is now too fragile to use regularly, can also be seen.
Balgay Park, Dundee DD2 2UB; tel: 01382 435967
6 RRS DISCOVERY
Antarctic research ship RRS Discovery (pictured), a wooden three-masted ship launched in 1901 now stands on the waterfront at Dundee. Visitors can tour both above and below deck and enjoy exhibitions which tell the story of the ship’s voyages, those who sailed on her and the specialist equipment used to explore the waters of the Antarctic.
Captain Robert Falcon Scott led the pioneering voyage during which 500 new animal species would be discovered and hundreds of miles of unknown coastlines mapped. The Discovery later went into service with the Hudson’s Bay Company and as a munitions ship in World War One.
Discovery Point, Discovery Quay, Dundee DD1 4XA; tel: 01382 309060
7 ST PAUL'S EPISCOPAL CATHEDRAL
Designed by architect Sir George Scott, St Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral is a landmark building whose spire dominates the city skyline. The cathedral was built on the site of a medieval castle and the foundation stone for the current building was laid on 21 July 1853. It was completed two years later at a cost of £14,000. Visitors are welcome to join in with the services or simply look around the historic building.
High Street, Dundee DD1 1TD; tel: 01382 224486
8 TAY RAIL BRIDGE
The Tay Rail Bridge (pictured) spans the Firth of Tay between Dundee and Wormit, with a 3.5 kilometre railway line. It was built to replace the original railway bridge which collapsed during a severe storm in 1879. Passengers can see the remains of the original bridge as the train crosses the Firth. The new bridge was opened in 1887, designed by William Henry Barlow.
9 THE MCMANUS
A recently-restored museum and art gallery with eight galleries containing exhibits on history, art and the environment. The museum is housed in a Gothic Revival building opened in 1867 and regularly hosts travelling exhibitions from other galleries.
Albert Square, Meadowside, Dundee DD1 1DA; tel: 01382 307200
10 VERDANT WORKS
A former jute mill which pays tribute to Dundee’s world famous jute industry and its workers. Visitors can see working mill machinery, hear the stories of mill workers, and watch an audio visual show about life in ‘Juteopolis’.
West Henderson’s Wynd, Dundee DD1 5BT; tel: 01382 309060