One of the historic attractions of Linlithgow is the ruin of Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. The Palace was built, starting in 1424 by James I of Scotland. It was destroyed by fire in 1746. Linlithgow was also the site of the battle of Linlithgow Bridge at the western edge of the town. Another attraction is St. Michael's Church to which a distinctive, "crown" steeple was added in 1964. Linlithgow lies on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal and the Linlithgow Union Canal Society run a Canal Museum and operate narrowboat tours from Manse Road basin.
The convenience afforded for the sport of falconry, which was
so great a favorite during the feudal ages, was probably one
cause of an attachment of the ancient Scottish monarchs to Linlithgow
and its fine lake. The
sport of hunting was also followed with success in the neighborhood,
from which circumstance it probably arises that the ancient
arms of the city represent a black greyhound bitch tied to a
Celt, according to Chalmers, might plausibly derive the name
of Linlithgow from Lin-liah-cu, the Lake of the Greyhound. Chalmers
himself seems to prefer the Gothic derivation of Lin-lyth-gow,
or the Lake of the Great Vale. The Castle of Linlithgow is only
mentioned as being a
peel, a pile, that is, an embattled tower surrounded by an outwork.
In 1300 it was rebuilt or repaired by Edward I., and used as
one of the citadels by which he hoped to maintain his usurped
dominion in Scotland. It is described by Barbour as "meihle
and stark and stuffed weel." Piers
Luband, a Gascoigne knight, was appointed the keeper, and appears
to have remained there until the autumn of 1313, when the Scots
recovered the Castle....
faithful to his usual policy, caused the peel of Linlithgow
to be dismantled, and worthily rewarded William Binnock, who
had behaved with such gallantry on the occasion. From this bold
yeoman the Binnies of West Lothian are proud to trace their
descent; and most, if not all of them, bear in their arms something
connected with the wagon, which was the instrument of his stratagem.
times of comparative peace returned, Linlithgow again became
the occasional residence of the sovereign. In 1411 the town
was burned by accident, and in 1414 was again subjected to the
same calamity, together
with the Church and Palace of the king, as is expressly mentioned
by Bower. The present Church, which is a fine specimen of Gothic
architecture, having a steeple surmounted by an imperial crown,
was probably erected soon after the calamity.
Palace arose from its ashes with greater splendor than before;
for the family of Stuart, unhappy in some respects, were all
of them fortunate in their taste for the fine arts, and particularly
for that of architecture. The Lordship of Linlithgow was settled
as a dowry upon
Mary of Gueldres in 1449, and again upon Margaret of Denmark
IV., a splendid gallant, seems to have founded the most magnificent
part of Linlithgow Palace; together with the noble entrance
betwixt two flanking towers bearing, on rich entablatures, the
royal arms of Scotland, with the collars of the Orders of the
Thistle, Garter, and Saint Michael. James IV. also erected in
the Church a throne for himself, and twelve stalls for Knights
Companions of the Thistle.... His death and the rout of his
army clouded for many a day the glory of Scotland, and marred
the mirth of her palaces.
V. was much attached to Linlithgow, and added to the Palace
both the Chapel and Parliament Hall, the last of which is peculiarly
striking. So that when he brought his bride, Mary of Guise,
there, amid the festivities which accompanied their wedding,
she might have had more
reason than mere complaisance for highly commending the edifice,
and saying that she never saw a more princely palace. It was
long her residence, and that of her royal husband, at Linlithgow.
Mary was born there in an apartment still shown; and the ill-fated
within a few days of that event, left the ominous diadem which
he wore to the still more unfortunate infant....
the subsequent reign of Queen Mary, Linlithgow was the scene
of several remarkable events; the most interesting of which
was the assassination of the Regent Murray by Hamilton of Bothwell-haugh.
James VI. loved the royal residence of Linlithgow, and completed
the original plan of the Palace, closing the great square by
a stately range of apartments of great architectural beauty.
He also made a magnificent fountain in the Palace yard, now
ruinous, as are all the buildings
around. Another grotesque Gothic fountain adorns the street
of the town....
the scepter passed from Scotland, oblivion sat down in the halls
of Linlithgow; but her absolute desolation was reserved for
the memorable era of 1745-6. About the middle of January in
that year, General Hawley marched at the head of a strong army
to raise the siege of Stirling, then prest by the Highland insurgents
under the adventurous Charles Edward. The English general had
exprest considerable contempt of his
enemy, who, he affirmed, would not stand a charge of cavalry.
On the night of the 17th he returned to Linlithgow, with all
the marks of defeat, having burned his tents, and left his artillery
and baggage. His disordered troops were quartered in the Palace,
and began to make such great fires on the hearth, as to endanger
the safety of the edifice. A lady of the Livingstone family
who had apartments there remonstrated with General Hawley, who
treated her fears with contempt. "I can run away from fire
as fast as you can, General," answered the high-spirited
dame, and with this sarcasm took horse for Edinburgh. Very soon
after her departure her apprehensions were realized; the Palace
caught fire and was burned to the ground. The ruins alone remain
to show its former splendor.
situation of Linlithgow Palace is eminently beautiful. It stands
on a promontory of some elevation, which advances almost into
the midst of the lake. The form is that of a square court, composed
of buildings of four stories high, with towers at the angles.
The fronts within the square, and the windows, are highly ornamented,
and the size of the rooms, as well as the width and character
of the staircase, are upon a magnificent scale. One banquet
room is 94 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 33 feet high, with a
gallery for music. The king's wardrobe, or
dressing-room, looking to the west, projects over the walls
so as to have a delicious prospect on three sides, and is one
of the most enviable boudoirs we have ever seen.
were two main entrances to Linlithgow Palace. That from the
south ascends rather steeply from the town, and passes through
a striking Gothic archway, flanked by two round towers. The
portal has been richly
adorned by sculpture, in which can be traced the arms of Scotland
with the collars of the Thistle, the Garter, and Saint Michael.
This was the work of James V., and is of a most beautiful character.
other entrance is from the eastward. The gateway is at some
height from the foundation of the wall, and there are opposite
to it the remains of a perron, or ramp of mason work, which
those who desired to enter must have ascended by steps. A drawbridge,
which could be raised
at pleasure, united, when it was lowered, the ramp with the
threshold of the gateway, and when raised left a gap between
them, which answered the purpose of a moat. On the inside of
the eastern gateway is a figure, much mutilated, said to have
been that of Pope Julius II., the same Pontiff who sent to James
IV. the beautiful sword which makes part of the Regalia.
what base offices we may return!" In the course of the
last war, those beautiful remains, so full of ancient remembrances,
very narrowly escaped being defaced and dishonored, by an attempt
to convert them into barracks for French prisoners of war. The
late President Blair, as
zealous a patriot as he was an excellent lawyer, had the merit
of averting this insult upon one of the most striking objects
of antiquity which Scotland yet affords. I am happy to add that
of late years the Court of Exchequer have, in this and similar
cases, shown much zeal to
preserve our national antiquities, and stop the dilapidations
which were fast consuming them.
coming to Linlithgow by the Edinburgh road, the first view of
the town, with its beautiful steeple, surmounted with a royal
crown, and the ruinous towers of the Palace arising out of a
canopy of trees, forms a most impressive object. By Sir Walter
To Tour Edinburgh