Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian
High Street A803
Linlithgow means 'the loch in the damp hollow'. The Palace stands on a promontory overlooking a small loch. Roman pottery and also two possible Crannogs have been found nearby.
The history of Linlithgow is immense, matching the magnificence of this spectacular palace. This really is a fabulous place to explore the vast rooms that once housed the Stuart Royal family. If architecture is your thing, then you will not be disappointed.
The palace can be found in the centre of the town with limited parking just outside the palace walls, with footpaths down to the pleasant park and lake for a stroll, or if the weather is kind, as we did, a picnic.
~ History ~
1130's ~ A castle is built at Linlithgow to protect the Royal burgh founded by King David I.
1298 ~ King Edward I of England uses the castle as a key logistics base for his campaign against the Scots, including camping his army on his way to defeating William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk. In order to secure his supply lines, he commissions he chief engineer, Master James of St George, builder of his 'ring of steel' castle in North Wales, to construct a stone fortress on the old castle site. Unfortunately, the same problem that resulted in the unfinished castles of North Wales is money. Edward was in effect bankrupt through years of wars against France, Wales and Scotland, together with his extensive castle building program.
1301 ~ Work begins on a new castle at Linlithgow, but out of wood rather than stone due to limited funds being made available.
1303 ~ A great ditch is dug around the perimeter of the completed castle to add to its defences.
1304 ~ Linlithgow Castle is used By King Edward to provide materials to support his siege of Stirling Castle.
1307 ~ King Edward I dies whilst riding north to lead a further campaign into Scotland.
1310 ~ King Edward's son, King Edward II stays at the castle.
1313 ~ Under King Edward II, English fortunes are reversed with Robert the Bruce systematically reducing English held castles, including seizing Linlithgow Castle.
He achieves this by sending a hay merchant, William Bunnock, to the castle who is duly admitted into the site. However, as soon as his cart blocks the gates, he releases the horses and Bruce's men storm the castle. The garrison is massacred, and the castle burnt.
1314 ~ Robert the Bruce wins a decisive victory over King Edward II's army at the Battle of Bannockburn.
1340 ~ Linlithgow Castle is rebuilt under the orders of the Scottish King David II, who later holds court at the castle three years later once complete.
1371 ~ The Scottish Parliament assemble at Linlithgow castle.
1424 ~ The castle is gutted by an accidental fire that started in the town but spreads to engulf the castle.
1425 ~ King James I of Scotland, who has spent many years as a prisoner of the English, seizes the opportunity to rebuild the castle into a Royal Palace that better reflects his authority as the newly appointed King. This includes a Great Hall, Royal accommodation, and the kitchens. It looked out upon a courtyard enclosed by a barmkin and what remains of the old castle that has survived the fire.
1429 ~ The Palace is sufficiently complete to enable King James to entertain the archbishop of Reims upon his arrival from France.
1437 ~ King James I is assassinated and his seven-year-old successor, James II, later takes very little interest in the palace other than using it as a depot for his artillery train.
1455 ~ The great siege cannon used to bring down the Black Douglas's at Threave Castle is held at Linlithgow Palace.
1460 ~ King James II's army lays siege to the English held Roxburgh Castle. Unfortunately, he is standing too close to his prized cannon when he orders it to be fired, but instead it explodes, mortally wounding the King, 'his thigh is snapped in two and he is stricken to the ground and dies a hasty death'. Roxburgh Castle falls to his forces a few days later. His son James III takes his father's throne as King of Scotland.
King James III continues his grandfather's work and extends the South Range and adds a West Range which incorporates a substantial tower. He dies before he is able to complete his vision for the Palace.
1488 ~ Following rebellions and assassination attempt to remove the pro-English King James III in favour of his son, he is finally killed at the Battle of Sauchieburn. His son, James IV is crowned King and later continues the building work at the Palace, including the barbican.
He makes regular use of the palace.
1503 ~ King James IV gives Linlithgow Palace to his English Queen. daughter of King Henry VII, Margaret Tudor, as a wedding present.
1512 ~ King James IV son, the future James V, is born at Linlithgow Palace.
1513 ~ King James IV is killed at the Battle of Flodden fighting the English, along with 8,000 Scots.
1542 ~ Mary, Queen of Scots is born at the Palace. Her father King James V dies just six days later at Falkland Palace.
1543 ~Agreement is reached between the Scottish and English Crowns that the one-year-old princess would be married to Edward, Prince of Wales. Her mother, Mary of Guise, fears that her infant queen might be abducted before her eventual marriage, so she is moved to Stirling Castle for her safety.
1558 ~ Mary, Queen of Scots, is married to the Dauphine Francis II of France, much to the fury of the English.
1559 ~ Upon Francis succeeding to the throne, Mary is crowned Queen of France.
1561 ~ Following the Kings early death, Mary sails from Calais for his homeland, aged just eighteen.
1565 ~ Mary marries Lord Darnley.
1567 ~ Mary, Queen of Scots unpopular husband Lord Darnley is assassinated. Whilst his Queen and infant daughter are asleep in the safety of nearby Holyrood Palace, he is woken and injured by his sleeping quarters being blown up with gunpowder. Upon trying to escape he is strangled to death. The Queen later moves to Linlithgow Palace. Leaving for Edinburgh, she unfortunately never makes it before being abducted by her lover and future husband, the Lord Bothwell. Within two months her husband is exiled and she is imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle, before being forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son, James VI of Scotland. Scotland is governed by regents during his infancy.
1570 ~ The regents decline to stay at the Palace, instead preferring to lodge in the town. Whilst staying in an inn owned by the keeper of Linlithgow, Regent Moray is assassinated by a sniper.
1587 ~ Mary, Queen of Scots, prisoner to her cousin Queen Elizabeth of England, is beheaded at Fotherinhay Castle following attempts by English Catholic's to replace the protestant Queen Elizabeth with the catholic Queen Mary.
1590 ~ Anna of Denmark, Queen of Scotland to King James VI, stays at Linlithgow Palace.
1603 ~ Queen Elizabeth I of England dies and King James VI of Scotland becomes King of both countries. He immediately moves south and spends the next 14 years in England.
1607 ~ Following years of neglect the North Range collapses.
1617 ~ King James IV orders the North Range to be rebuilt. It is completed the following year.
1633 ~ King James IV's son, King Charles I, visits the Palace for the one and only time, staying for a single day.
1649 ~ Following a long civil war against Parliament and Oliver Cromwell, King Charles I is beheaded at Westminster.
1650 ~ An English army under the command of Oliver Cromwell invades Scotland in order to overthrow Charles II who has claimed the throne following the execution of his father. Cromwell defeats Scottish forces at the Battle of Dunbar and then stations troops throughout central Scotland. Linlithgow is occupied by Cromwell's troops and is once again used as a supply base. The site is hastily modified into a defendable location and artillery is installed. Parts of the structure are demolished to give the guns a clear line of fire.
1660 ~ Following the restoration of the monarchy under King Charles II, the Cromwellian modifications are removed.
1745 ~ Linlithgow Palace is briefly visited by Prince Charles Stuart who is advancing towards Edinburgh with his Jacobite rebel army.
He subsequently marches south and invades England but was forced to turn back at Derby.
1746 ~ The retreating Jacobite army is pursued north by Government forces under William, Duke of Cumberland, who camps at Linlithgow.
On his departure, either through accident or deliberate arson, the palace is gutted by fire never to be restored.