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Linlithgow Palace

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Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Palace Scotland
Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian, Scotland. Linlithgow Palace - 20 Inch Canvas Print (51cm) by Robert Harding.

A royal manor-house built of wood and a church of stone were erected on this site in the twelfth century by
David, either when he was ruler of southern Scotland (1107—24) or during his reign as King of Scotland (1124—53). The manor-house was probably of the motte
and bailey type, a building of wood erected on a mound, with a dry ditch and palisade round the bailey. The motte hill has disappeared but its disposal may account for the great quantity of build-up on the northern escarpment of the promontory. In 1301—1302 Edward I, King of England, enclosed the buildings which were there at that time by a peel or palisade with towers of wood, and as an additional protection he made, where necessary, a deep ditch. In the winter of 1303—1304, which Edward spent at Dunfermline, Linlithgow Peel was one of the bases of operations for the siege of Stirling Castle which had hitherto defied his efforts to capture it. Siege-engines for throwing stones were conveyed from Dunfermline to the sea and thence to Linlithgow; others were built in Linlithgow. By the middle of May these had been conveyed to the English camp before Stirling. After the surrender of Stirling to the English in August the hay stored in the ‘Peel of Linlithgow’ was distributed ‘among
the great lords of the army’.

It was apparently in the late summer of 1313 that William Bunnock, a local farmer who was frequently engaged to deliver hay for use of the garrison, conceived a plan to
take the English fortress. Bunnock and some men managed to enter the Peel and successfully captured it and put the English to the sword. Those of the garrison who had been outside engaged in harvesting hay sought refuge, some at Edinburgh, others at Stirling, but many were slain by the country people. The military works
were demolished by orders of King Robert the Bruce and Bunnock was rewarded, possibly by a grant of lands in Linlithgow County.

The succeeding sovereigns followed the practice of their predecessors in residing at times in their manor-house of Linlithgow. It was here that Robert II, on 23rd October,
1389, signed the charter that granted self-government to the King’s Burgh of Linlithgow. The manor-house had been rebuilt during the reign of David II (1329—71) but it was James I who, in 1425, began the erection of a palace to take the place of the manor-house destroyed by fire in 1424, and it soon became a popular residence for a number of monarchs. Henry VI of England and Margaret his Queen resided in the Palace following the Lancastrian defeat at Towton in March 1461. The Palace
was the birthplace of James V (1513—42) and his daughter Mary, Queen of Scots (1542—67). The infant Queen Mary spent the first seven months of her life with her mother at Linlithgow until the Queen Dowager, considering the accommodation in the Palace limited and its situation too exposed in these troubled times, took up
residence in Stirling Castle. Following the Scottish defeat at Pinkie in September, 1547, Queen Mary was removed to the Priory of Inchmahome, on an island in the Lake of Menteith, until it was decided to send her to France. Queen Mary’s visits to the Palace, after her return from France, were only occasional when she used it as a
resting place on her journeys to and from the west.

The Scottish monarchs who particularly favoured Linlithgow were James IV (1488—1513), James V and James VI (1567—1625). The latter summoned a
Parliament to meet there in 1585, an exceptional but not unique occurrence, after the middle of the fifteenth century Parliament usually met in Edinburgh instead of attending the Sovereign wherever he happened to be in
residence.

Oliver Cromwell spent part of the winter 1650—1651 in the Palace, occupying ‘the new work’ while the garrison was accommodated in ‘the old work’. In fortifying his position he followed the lines of Edward I’s circumvallation, constrained by military considerations, but built a stone wall in place of the ditch and palisade. The fort was dismantled in 1663.

Following the Union of the Crowns and the consequent movement of the Court to London, Royal visits became sporadic and the last king to sleep at the Palace was
Charles I in 1633. However the hereditary keepers of the Palace continued to live there ready to welcome guests of royal lineage including James, Duke of Albany and York (afterwards King James VII and II) who appears to have stayed in the Palace during the time he spent in Scotland prior to his accession to the throne, and Prince Charles Edward Stewart.

On 31st January, 1746, the Duke of Cumberland’s army marched out of Edinburgh in two divisions, one following
the coast by way of Bo’ness, the other coming by Linlithgow. Troops bivouacked in the Palace, kindled great fires and carelessly left them burning when they quit
their quarters on the morning of 1st February. The straw on which they had slept caught fire and soon the Palace was in flames, and left to burn itself out.

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