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Standing Building Recording

Date 16 October 2014 - 25 February 2015

Event ID 1011886

Category Recording

Type Standing Building Recording


NT 0019 7732 A standing building survey was carried out, 16 October 2014 – 25 February 2015, at Linlithgow Palace. The main focus of the work was the S range, a space within the palace that has been subject to extensive alteration but little recording, and which contains significant levels of

decorative stone work, sculpture and mouldings.

An analysis of the SW of the palace shows a developmental sequence in line with the changing international fashion for palace layout. There was a move away from separate domestic quarters unconnected to the large chambers/ halls, to a progression of chambers and an axis of honour in the French style, culminating in the exclusiveness of the royal bedchamber. This latter arrangement reflects that of the royal apartments at Stirling Castle. The 17th century saw the construction of new doorways to create an enfilade of rooms in line with the demands of new court etiquette.

The lower part of the exterior S elevation at Linlithgow, where visible in its western half, may date from 1350–1425, or reflect alterations to the structure within the period 1425–1488. The garderobe chute appears to be an insertion judging from the irregular build of the wall face along its


The present SW corner of the palace can be regarded as the SW part of a quadrilateral enclosure, possibly open to the NW. The later palace follows this footprint. The SW corner consisted of a five-storey residential tower with a stair turret which also gave access to southern half of the present W range and the western part of the S range, both with two floors above a vaulted basement. The exterior wall of the S range continued to the E and linked to the SW tower and W range (not fully investigated at this stage).

During the period 1488–1513 (James IV), the chapel was built. New stair turrets were constructed in all corners of the courtyard and the focus of the king’s apartment moved to the N of the W range. The W range was extended to become an apartment consisting of an outer hall, inner hall and bedchamber. A three-storey stone gallery, with a barrel vault, was created on the S courtyard elevation giving private access to, and past, the chapel from the royal apartments.

During the period 1513–1542 (James V), a new S entrance was created through the S range. The western part of the exterior wall of the S range was thickened, blocking the former doorway in the SW tower. The parapet of the S front was carried on a double corbel course with mask gargoyles.

During the period 1585–1650 (James VI/Charles I) new doorways were inserted on the first floor in order to create, in line with Baroque practice, a continuous enfilade along the outer side of rooms from the S range. The new doorways were simple openings with wooden lintels and no mouldings, with the exception of that from Component 78, which had

simple rounded jambs (the other doors presumably had wooden door casings). These created a continuous passage from the chapel, through Component 78 and the SW tower (Component 80), and on through the W range to the Presence Chamber, Component 86. The wide W door of the chapel may date from this period. It is surmounted by a much-worn relief carving of what may be a crown, comparable in style to those on the window pediments of the N range.

While the available documentation for the palace does not allow precise dating for its development in the period of James I to James III, it would appear that it was laid out as a quadrilateral enclosure along the lines of the present E and S ranges, and the southern half of the W range. There

were corner towers but with a more irregular roofline than present on the S range. James IV and James V altered the building to create a more regular appearance to the whole.

The use of the quadrangular plan for the palace is arguably inspired by monastic planning in order that a complex, multifunctional structure can be built over an extended period without a specific initial overall plan. This process of building exploits a regular grid in both vertical and horizontal planes, which adds symmetry to the finished structure as a natural consequence of the building process. The essential requirements for this building strategy are a level platform and consistency to the grid.

At Linlithgow the latest palace plan appears to reflect two separate grid systems, the earlier smaller than the later, but both reflecting quadrangular plans. At this stage, the identification of the geometry and the consequent engineering of building these two basic stages have not

been fully defined. The irregularities in the building process, particularly the asymmetry of the corridors, reflects the building campaigns as they occurred, rather than necessarily reflecting extensive changes in function

and form.

Archive: National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE)


Funder: Historic Scotland

Gordon Ewart and Dennis Gallagher – Kirkdale Archaeology

Source: Discovery and excavation in Scotland

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