Unitary authority in southeast Scotland, south of the Firth of Forth, which was previously a district within Lothian region (1975–96) and a county until 1974.
Area 363 sq km/140 sq mi
TownsDalkeith (administrative headquarters), Penicuik, Bonnyrigg
Physical inland area rising toward the Moorfoot Hills in the south; River Esk
Features Crichton Castle, Roslin Castle, Rosslyn Chapel, Newtongrange Mining Museum
Industries glass and crystal, coalmining (declining), light manufacturing, food processing
Agriculture productive agriculturally to the north (arable and dairy), less productive and intensive toward the hills in the south
Population (2001) 80,950
History historically important mining area, with Scottish Mining Museum at Newtongrange
Economy The area is diversifying as it adjusts to the demise of the coal industry. Development is on a small to medium scale.
Environment There are 14 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, two Ramsars (wetland sites), one regional park, and three country parks.
Architecture Crichton Castle, now in ruins, is on the Tyne, 19 km/12 mi east of Edinburgh. The 14th-century tower house, mentioned by Walter Scott in his story Marmion (1808), was rebuilt in 1585 in Italianate style by Francis Stuart, 5th Earl of Bothwell. The 15th-century chapel at Roslin, built by William Sinclair, has intricate stone carvings and sculptures, including the allegorical ‘Dance of Death’, and the Late Gothic ‘Prentice Pilar’.
Industrial heritage The Scottish Mining Museum at Lady Victoria Colliery near Newtongrange, was a working mine from 1890 until its closure in 1981. It contains the ‘Grant-Richie’ winding engine which could lift coal from almost 500 m/1,640 ft below the surface.
Administrative history The county of Midlothian was more extensive than the present unitary authority and included land now belonging to each of its four neighbouring authorities, East Lothian, West Lothian, Scottish Borders and the City of Edinburgh.