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Culross Palace is actually not a palace, but a rich merchant's house. It was constructed, mainly in the early 17th century, by Sir George Bruce. Bruce was something of an engineer and pioneered submarine coal mining in Culross, using an Egyptian wheel to keep the mine drained. He ran salt works which burned coal to evaporate sea water. At the time, Bruce's mines and salt works were the most technically advanced such enterprises in Scotland, if not the whole of Britain. He also traded extensively with the Low Countries, Sweden and other ports along the Forth. The ‘palace’ includes many materials obtained overseas, including roof tiles and timber, and contains some astonishing painted woodwork, including ceilings, as well as contemporary furnishings. The National Trust for Scotland has done a wonderful preservation job and the palace is now finished in a warm yellow ochre colour. They have restored the unusual, if not unique, terraced garden, which grows fruit, vegetables and herbs used in the early 17th century. James VI visited in 1617 and it is believed he generously referred to Sir George’s house as ‘a palace’.
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