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Publication Account

Date 1985

Event ID 1016183

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


Linlithgow Loch was once more extensive and the promontory more conspicuously secure than it is today. Fragments of Roman pottery have been found on the site; there too stood the 12th century parish church, and the royal manor house incorporated in Edward I's peel in 1301-2. Nothing clearly identifiable, however, predates the fire of 1424.

The earlier 16th century gatehouse (copied by Scott at Abbotsford, no. 25) contains modern replica panels bearing the insignia of the Orders of the Garter, Thistle, Fleece and St Michael. Within, an early 16th century stair tower rises at each corner of the central courtyard with its elaborate fountain (c 1535); and the stairs are linked by a series of mainly 16th century wings. This strikingly simple, symmetrical plan, unique in Scotland in the Middle Ages though echoed in Edinburgh's 17th century Heriot's spital, seems to derive from late 14th century north-east English fortified manor-houses. Given Linlithgow's elaborate domestic provision combined with a high degree of defensibility, 'fortified palace' may indeed be a more appropriate description!

At first-floor level, the south wing held the chapel and what appears to have been 'My Lord's Hall' of1633; he west wing the 'King's Hall' and the 'Presence Chamber (1629); the north wing, rebuilt 1618-20, a whole series of 'chalmers' evidenced by multiple marooned fireplaces and chimney-stacks in the nowruinous walls. The east wing, as well as housing the court kitchen with its surviving 'beehive' ovens, also contained the 'Great Hall' or 'Lion Chalmer with its fine great window, remarkable triple fireplace and battery of upper-storey windows.

The north-west stair tower was known locally as the Queen's turnpike, surmounted by 'Queen Margaret's Bower-an octagonal rib-vaulted chamber with fine views to the surrounding coutryside. To the east the way opens out towards Edinburgh; westwards, the railway, canal and motorway all follow the inlandroute that the Palace commands north of the Torphichen Hills.

Below the palace, in the town, the High Street retains a few late 16th-17th century houses; also an interesting well head '1720/Saint Michael is Kinde to Strangers", and an 1807 replica of the 1628 Cross Well (no mercat cross survives).

St Michael's parish church dates from the later 15th century-completed towards the mid 16th century, just in time to be 'cleansed' in 1559, at the 'Reformation'! Along with St Mary's Haddington (no. 59), it reflects burgh wealth and status as no other in this part of Scotland. The present 'open' spire, added in 1964, is influenced by the medieval crown steeple (cf St Giles in Edinburgh) taken down c 1821.

Information from 'Exploring Scotland's Heritage: Lothian and Borders', (1985).

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