Fifteen miles from Falkirk and Edinburgh rears Linlithgow Palace, one of Scotland's most visited ruins. A splendid 15th-century fortress, it rises impressively on the edge of Linlithgow Loch. From here, and their three other palaces, the Stuart kings and queens ruled Scotland. Mary Queen of Scots entered the world here in 1542, but ended it in London by getting her head chopped off.
The palace apartments form a square around a central courtyard, giving the air of some renaissance French chateaux. The lofty walls, vast chambers, and vaults enable the visitor to conjure up images of life within. The roofless walls create unexpected views, the elegant bare rooms echo with footsteps, and birds flutter through empty windows. There's a labyrinthine feel to the place with its spiral staircases and endless nooks and crannies.
In the 94-foot-long galleried Great Hall, the walls now bare were in royal times hung with rich tapestries, while statues stood on the decorated brackets above them. Furniture consisted of long tables and forms with rushes strewn on the floor. The king and his immediate circle sat at the far end, in front of the fine fireplace lit by the large window in the east wall. Food prepared in the adjoining kitchen, with its cavernous fireplace, graced the tables. Ale from the downstairs brewery washed it down.
Water (and sometimes wine) flowed from beneath a crown in the courtyard’s decorated fountain.
James I began building the present palace in 1424, focusing mainly on the Great Hall and main entrance. Building and rebuilding continued under successive kings for 200 years as they sought to create the ideal modern palace. For defence, a barbican and a drawbridge protected the entrance, and the walls of the four corner towers were 2m thick. Projecting parapets added in the early 16th century allowed the throwing down of missiles on attackers.
Tragedy struck in September 1513. Under the "auld alliance" with France, James IV felt obliged to march on northern England to ease the pressure of Henry VIII’s attack on France. Margaret, James’ wife (Henry VIII’s sister), watched for his return in the lookout post perched in the northwest tower. She waited in vain—James lay dead on Flodden Field. Queen Margaret's Bower is open to visitors and offers splendid views of the palace itself and the surrounding countryside.
In 1633, Charles I (British monarch due to Union of the Crowns), while visiting Scotland, was the last ruling Stuart to sleep here. The palace then alternated in offering shelter to friend and foe alike. From 1650 to 1651, Cromwell spent the winter at the palace. Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed here in 1745, during his journey south to try to reclaim his family’s throne. In January 1746, government troops under the Duke of Cumberland following Bonnie Prince Charlie north towards their eventual bloody meeting at Culloden stayed here. As "Butcher" Cumberland’s army marched north, fires left burning gutted the building, leaving it as it is today.
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Golf, Football & the pub & grub
If it's Golf you love Linlithgow is a great place to have your base. you have a multitude of courses in and around linlithgow, linlithgow golf club, west lothian golf club (Bo'ness), Bridgend golf club, Niddrie Castle golf club, Grangemouth golf club, Polmont golf club All within 5 miles of Linlithgow Town Centre.
Football you have the new Scottish Junior Cup Holders Linlithgow Rose F.C You also have Scottish Premier League side Falkirk F.C only 7 miles away easily reached by the local bus service.
Pubs there are umpteen pubs in Linlithgow with a few hotels a great day or night out Friday to Sunday is very busy whichever pub you visit.
Grub whether you want to sit inn or take away there are plenty of places to eat, you have two chip shops two Indians two chinese a four in one, a Dhillon's and many pubs and hotels that also cater for the public.
- Hiking and Walking
- Castles and Palaces
It's now a ruin, but it's still an interesting place to visit. Dating back to the 1300s, this palace has been built, destroyed, and re-built several times. James V was born here in 1512. And Mary Queen of Scots was also born here in 1542.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
This striking palace was first built in the 15th Century and was lived in by Scottish Kings and Queens until its interior was gutted by a fire late in the 17th century. The picture shows the front facade and the entrance to the interior of the building.
If you are at the Palace, inevitable you will see this. There is always a selection of wildfowl on or by the Loch: ducks, swans and geese. Actually, they are not wild at all: the last time I saw them, someone with a baby buggy had to shove a swan (which was grooming) with the wheels to get by. The swan may have moved as much as 3 inches.
If you are feeling generous, take some bread (or chips) to feed them. Be prepared to be knocked down in the rush, especially by the geese.
The Union Canal (Falkirk to Edinburgh) runs above the centre of Linlithgow. There is a Canal Society who run a small museum and tearoom, boat trips, and special events. The headquarters are in the old canal stables at the Manse Road Basin - horses being the original means of propulsion for canal boats: specially trained horses would swim along in harness towing the barges.
Limited museum opening hours (afternoons - 7 days July/August; Sat/Sun Easter-October)
Note: the bit about swimming horses is a complete lie.
- Museum Visits
Avon Aqueduct 2
The Union Canal, of which the aqueduct is a vital part, is unusual, as the only contour canal in Scotland. This means it was construsted at one level (the 240 foot contour line) all the way from Falkirk to Edinburgh. So the only locks on the canal were the sequence (of 15!) required to link it to the Forth and Clyde canal at Camelon - now replaced by the Falkirk Wheel.
Another marvel of Industrial age engineering, the 810 foot Avon Aqueduct, was constructed by the famous engineer, Thomas Telford; and is the longest in Scotland. Although you can't really see the glory of it whilst you are on it, there are paths down to the foot and great views down the Avon Gorge to the Avon Viaduct (pictured, with train).
There is an interesting article on sailing the Union Canal, from Canal and Riverboat magazine, here.
Linlithgow palace and loch
The palace is in ruins and there's anything special to see inside. But I enjoyed very much the walk we had around the lake.
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