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Falkland Palace

Chapel (Period Unassigned), Dovecot (Period Unassigned), Palace (Medieval)

Site Name Falkland Palace

Classification Chapel (Period Unassigned), Dovecot (Period Unassigned), Palace (Medieval)

Canmore ID 29787

Site Number NO20NE 3

NGR NO 25345 07454

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/29787

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images


First 100 images shown. See the Collections panel (below) for a link to all digital images.

Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Falkland
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Treasured Places (3 August 2007)

Construction of the Renaissance palace at Falkland began in the early 16th century, replacing an earlier castle confiscated by the crown in 1437. During the reigns of James IV and V it was used as a hunting lodge. The palace is built around three sides of a courtyard with the construction of a wall completing the square. Only the foundations of the N side and the ruins of the E side remain, but the S range survives, having been extensively restored in the 19th century.

Information from RCAHMS (SC) 3 August 2007

Gifford, J 1988

Archaeology Notes

NO20NE 3.00 25345 07454

NO20NE 3.01 NO 2536 0744 Pictish Symbol Stones (NO20NW 13)

NO20NE 3.02 NO 25384 07645 Royal Stables and Tennis Court

NO20NE 3.03 NO 25344 07438 Tyndall Bruce Statue

see also:

NO20NE 119 NO 25178 07500 Private Bridge (Between Palace and Falkland House)

(NO 2535 0745) Palace (NR) (Remains of)

OS 6" map (1938)

Falkland Palace occupies the site of a steading at least as old as the 15th century.

It was a quadrangular structure, with buildings on the north, south and east sides. The west side was closed by a wall against or close to which was erected a 'lodging', since removed. Only the foundations of the north side remain and of the south and east sides the east side is in ruins.

Construction was begun about 1530, to replace the older castle (NO20NE 18), and was completed in 1541, incorporating earlier work (Macgibbon and Ross (1887) date the south front, architecturally, to the late 15th century: existing fabric was incorporated in the construction of this side in 1537). The eastern range was 'a new work' in 1516 but was virtually rebuilt in 1537. By 1685 the palace was partly ruinous but it was extensively restored in the 19th century.

RCAHMS 1933

As described above. The east range is being extensively restored.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 21 March 1967

Two cut-down symbol stones found on Westfield Farm are now exhibited in Falkland Palace Museum. For information on the symbol stones, see NO20NW 13.

Falkland Palace developed from a pre-existing castle which may have its roots in the 12th or 13th century. Two towers of the castle had been adversely affected by root action, and steps were needed to halt this process. Vegetation has now been removed from both towers, and one, the keep or well tower, has been further investigated vath the aid of NTS Conservation Volunteers. The tower was found to have been dismantled and entirely restored by Lord Bute during his excavations at Falkland in the 1890s; a well head, perhaps of 17th or 18th-century design, was also introduced. Lord Bute reused stonework from adjacent medieval buildings to make up a level surface which will now be consolidated and used in the visitor interpretation of the castle. The second, smaller tower is due to be investigated in 1995.

Sponsor: NTS.

R Turner 1994

NO 253 074 Four exploratory trenches were excavated by Scotia Archaeology Limited at first floor level within the E range of the palace to determine the age of the deposits that overlay the vaulted cellars below. All such materials, comprising concrete, bricks, felt/bitumen and ashy waste had been deposited during the Marquis of Bute's renovations in the late 19th century or when the concrete floor was laid in the 1930s and 1960s.

Sponsor: National Trust for Scotland.

H Smith 1995.

NO 2538 0747 A watching brief was kept by Scotia Archaeology Ltd during the excavation of several drainage trenches within and outside a range of cellars beyond the E range of the palace. At the N end of the range, two sections of the original 16th-century drain system were uncovered; a third drain, to the immediate N of the cross-house, was a late 19th-century rebuild. The load-bearing walls of the E range, the cellars and the cross-house were set on bedrock.

Although exploratory trenching had already established that the concrete covering the floor of the hall in the E range was of 20th-century date (Smith 1995), its removal was also monitored during this programme.

Sponsor: National Trust for Scotland

J Terry 1996

NO 253 074 Scotia Archaeology Ltd kept a watching brief during the excavation of trenches for a new drainage system along the N (courtyard) side of the S range of the palace. The excavation revealed a complex of existing drains including a stone-lined channel stretching 35m along the length of the range. This channel was 0.3m wide and varied in depth from 0.25m near the angle with the E range to 0.45m at its W end. The channel, together with an overlying U-shaped open drain, is thought to be of 19th-century origin.

Sponsor: National Trust for Scotland

J Terry 1997

NO 2535 0745 This work is the continuation of a project started in 1994, investigating the remains of Falkland Castle. Excavation of the remains of the western D-shaped tower was undertaken, the purpose being to remove the disturbed material attributable to investigations carried out at the site by Lord Bute, late last century. Excavations revealed that most of the existing walling is of drystone construction, with two small patches of lime-mortared wall being the only remnants of the original building. Landscaping for the gardens has removed any trace of previous archaeological surfaces, with thin topsoil overlying degraded sandstone bedrock.

The site was filled in after excavation to a lower level, to allow later consolidation and interpretation of the remains.

Sponsor: National Trust for Scotland

D Hind 1998

NO 254 076 An archaeological watch was kept on the installation of earthing rods for the upgraded lightning conductors at Falkland Palace in June 2002.

The excavations were minimal in nature, and only the topsoil was disturbed. Two trenches within a cultivated bed on the W side of the castle yielded late 19th- to early 20th-century earthenware. No other finds or features were recorded.

Archive to be deposited in Fife SMR and the NMRS.

Sponsor: NTS.

D Hind 2002

c NO 253 074 A watching brief was conducted in February 2005 during the excavation of five small holes to receive new signposts. The holes had a maximum depth of 0.6m and were 0.4m square. Trench 1 lay to the S of the entrance, trench 2 lay to the NW corner of the palace, trench 3 lay further to the N, and the remaining two trenches lay within the present garden area to the E and W respectively. Only trenches 1-3 contained anything of archaeological interest, in the form of a substantial rubble deposit.

Archive to be deposited in NMRS.

Sponsor: NTS.

G Ewart 2005

Architecture Notes

NO20NE 3.00 25345 07454

INFORMATION TAKEN FROM THE ARCHITECTURE CATALOGUE:

ARCHITECT: Thomas Bonnar - painted ceilings - 'David Scott' and Priest's Rooms 1895

John Kinross - restoration

Robert Weir Schultz - Domestic Chapel and Corridor restoration

William Frame - restoration for Lord Bute

Mr Edwards (Alexr Edward) 1699 'Draught of the Low Palace at Falkland'

John Merlioun 1537, Nicholas Roy, Moses Martin, mason, William Turnbull, Andrews Matheson, William Thome, Andrew Wright - Chapel Block, 1501-12

Thomas French, James Black - Gothic S Front 1538-9.

John Brownhill, Henry Bawte, 1539-41.

Peter Flemishman - statuary on S front.

OWNER: National Trust for Scotland

NMRS Print Room

Falkland Palace

5 exterior views (2 of them filed in Bo/Ro, Ferniehirst)

Close view of the chapel screen

W Schomberg Scott Photograph Collection

Acc No 1997/39

NMRS Plans

I G Linsday Collection, W/239

REFERENCE:

SCOTS MAGAZINE, November 1807, 1 engraving.

SCOTTISH RECORD OFFICE:

Railing and gate for Falkland Palace. Estimates are to be obtained from Paterson, Iron Founder, Leith for undertaking the work in cast iron and from Wilson, Smith, The Mint, for them in wrought iron.

Letters: William Waddel to John Bruce

January 12 and 24 1822 GD152/218/5/Bundle 20/1 and 2.

Repair and conversion of a circular tower in the Palace Garden into a Pigeon House. Estimate ?85.

Letter: John Swinton, Architect, to William Waddel.

26 April 1822 GD152/218/5/Bundle 20/9

Repair work at Falkland Palace. Receipts for work, materials and carriage. Account for ?759.11.5 from John Swinton, Contractor. (51)

1824 GD/152/217/5/Bundle 16/1-51

Proposal by John Swinton that the House at Falkland Palace formerly occupied by the Clergyman should be made habitable at a small expense for a Tenant 'supposing him to be a Gentleman or a retired Officer, with the seven Acres in the Garden!

John Bruce wishes to know if this work is included in Swinton's estimate.

Letter: John Bruce to William Waddel.

9 May 1825 GD/152/218/5/Bundle 22/7

'Proposed repairs to the Tower over the Gateway of Falkland Palace. I would suggest for Mr Swinton's consideration ... The Tower over the Gateway to be made as like the other as practicable and the Windows which are to be stopped up to be marked and painted as Windows to preserve the ancient external appearance.'

Letter: John Bruce to William Waddel.

9 May 1825 GD/152/218/5/Bundle 22/7

'Proposed repairs to the Chapel of Falkland Palace. 'I would suggest for Mr Swinton's consideration ... the windows in the Chapel may be Casement Glass not large panes and the middle Window to be plastered up and the outside made in imitation of a Window as five windows will be quite sufficient and have Iron Bars without and Wire Work to defend them ... The floor of the Chapel may be made sufficiently strong to protect the Dwelling House below ... The Cupola of the Pulpit may be preserved till I see what can be done with it.'

Letter: John Bruce to William Waddel.

9 May 1825 GD/152/218/5/Bundle 22/7

Proposed repairs [to Chapel, Gateway and House] at Falkland Palace. John Bruce agrees that Mr Waddel should 'settle with Swinton , and let it be done forthwith; as it can be better done now, when Swinton is there than afterwards.'

Letter: John Bruce to William Waddel.

16 May 1825 GD/152/218/5/Bundle 22/9

Proposed repairs to the Chapel at Falkland Palace. 'Had any remains of the Antiquities in the interior of the chapel, been preserved, it would have been worthwhile to put Glass windows in all the 3 but this not being the Case, the external appearance only is worth attention. It was surely to preserve the house below as habitable thar Swinton recommended the Chapel to have a new floor and the only chance we have of making anything of the Palace is to make what was the Minister's house habitable for a tenant. Letter John Bruce to William Waddel.

13 June 1825 GD218/5/Bundle 22/17

Proposed addition to Falkland Palace and restoration of garden and terraces. 'It would be much the cheapest and most convenient thing you could do - to say nothing of the taste and character and popularity of it.'

Letter: C R Cockerell [1788-1863], Architect to O Tyndall Bruce.

25 March 1828 GD152/53/1/Bundle 16/1

Proposal to restore Falkland Palace rather than build a house on a new site. 'There may be something strained and difficult in realising my scheme but were I King of Falkland I feel that I should make a great effort to do so ...' Letter: C R Cockerell [1788-1863], Architect to O Tyndall Bruce.

12 January 1831 GD152/53/1/Bundle 16/2

Falkland Palace. Print of an engraving used as a heading for account from R Burton, General Merchant, Falkland.

Valentine Sc. Dundee 1839. GD152/53/3/Bundle 18/4

Report on the condition of the flooring over the Great Hall of Falkland Palace. 'Many of the joists are quite rotten at the ends where they should be resting in the wall, so that the floor and ceiling consisting of an immense mass of heavy oak joisting and panelling appears to be almost entirely supported by a few strappings let fall from the struts of the roof and nailed to the decayed joists ...'.

Letters: William Howden, Factor, to A hamilton Bruce.

January 1882 GD152/217/4/Bundle 10/12

MISCELLANEOUS: From the 'Proceedings of Tempera Painting'. Vol. XLIII - 1 pamphlet

Activities

Design (1890)

Designs drawn up by Thomas Bonnar.

Measured Survey (1925)

Photographic Survey (1 January 1930 - 31 December 1939)

Field Visit (1933)

Falkland Palace occupies the site of a steading at least as old as the 15th century.

It was a quadrangular structure, with buildings on the north, south and east sides. The west side was closed by a wall against or close to which was erected a 'lodging', since removed. Only the foundations of the north side remain and of the south and east sides the east side is in ruins. Construction was begun about 1530, to replace the older castle (NO20NE 18), and was completed in 1541, incorporating earlier work (Macgibbon and Ross (1887) date the south front, architecturally, to the late 15th century: existing fabric was incorporated in the construction of this side in 1537). The eastern range was 'a new work' in 1516 but was virtually rebuilt in 1537. By 1685 the palace was partly ruinous but it was extensively restored in the 19th century.

RCAHMS 1933

Field Visit (13 September 1949)

Field Visit (24 April 1951)

Field Visit (13 May 1953)

Modification (1955 - 1980)

Alterations and additions carried out by Schomberg Scott, between c.1955-1980.

Field Visit (1960)

Photographic Record (1960 - 1970)

Field Visit (21 March 1967)

The east range is being extensively restored.

Aerial Photography (1985)

Photographic Survey (1985)

Photographs taken for the Inventory of Designed Gardens and Landscapes.

Publication Account (1987)

The present Palace of Falkland was erected by the Stuarts as a royal hunting seat and was the product of two main building programmes, the first extending from about 1500 to 1513 and the second from 1537 to 1541. The property had been forfeited to the Crown by the Earl of Atholl in 1437 and the existing quadrangle may have replaced an earlier steading. The former Castle of Falkland which stood to the north of the quadrangle was abandoned as the new buildings were completed. The date of its final destruction is not known but it had been erected between 1337, when the earlier castle was levelled by English invaders, and 1401, when the replacement was first mentioned. The excavated ruins of this building date from the 13th century. A 17th century house was erected on this site but has now entirely disappeared.

Only the south quarter of the quadrangle remains intact, but a substantial fragment also survives of the east quarter, which contained the royal lodgings. The courtyard facades, with their buttresses modelled as classical columns and incorporating medallion busts, are attributed to two French master masons, Nicholas Roy and Moses Martin. Their work contrasts sharply with the gatehouse, constructed under the direction of a mason who had previously worked at Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh.

The 'catchpole' or Royal Tennis Court adjoins the stable towards the north end of the palace grounds. The Falkland court is unique, being the only surviving 'jeu quarre' court in the world. It was built in 1539 for James V and is still in regular use. There were originally two types of court in France, where the game originated: the 'jeu quarre' and the 'jeu a dedans'.All the surviving courts, apart from Falkland, are Jeu a dedans' courts. The 'jeu quarre' court has penthouses on only two sides, rather than three, and four window like apertures in the wall at the service end. The game was originally played in monastery courtyards without rackets, and rackets had still to be invented when the Falkland court was built. It is one of the most difficult ball games and has been likened to chess in its subtleties and complexities. There is an active playing group still associated with the court.

There are many fine 17th and 18th century houses to be seen in the Burgh of Falkland, one of the most interesting being Moncrief House, opposite the Palace and dating from 1610. This two-and-a-halfstorey townhouse retains a thatched roof but has lost a row of wallhead dormer windows, the remains of which can be seen at the eaves.

The collection in the Falkland Palace museum includes two fragments of Pictish symbol stones (see chapter 8), both found when part of the steading at Westfleld Farm (NO 238073) was demolished in 1971. Each has been cut into a rectangular block in modem times, and the small square follows are also modem. One stone has a sharply incised double disc symbol and the so-called 'mirror-case' symbol, while the other shows part of a circular design and the symbol known as the 'notched rectangle'. There are also three prehistoric carved stones (see no. 90 and chapter 10).

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Fife and Tayside’, (1987).

Observation (1994)

Falkland Palace developed from a pre-existing castle which may have its roots in the 12th or 13th century. Two towers of the castle had been adversely affected by root action, and steps were needed to halt this process. Vegetation has now been removed from both towers, and one, the keep or well tower, has been further investigated vath the aid of NTS Conservation Volunteers. The tower was found to have been dismantled and entirely restored by Lord Bute during his excavations at Falkland in the 1890s; a well head, perhaps of 17th or 18th-century design, was also introduced. Lord Bute reused stonework from adjacent medieval buildings to make up a level surface which will now be consolidated and used in the visitor interpretation of the castle. The second, smaller tower is due to be investigated in 1995.

Excavation (1995)

NO 253 074 Four exploratory trenches were excavated by Scotia Archaeology Limited at first floor level within the E range of the palace to determine the age of the deposits that overlay the vaulted cellars below. All such materials, comprising concrete, bricks, felt/bitumen and ashy waste had been deposited during the Marquis of Bute's renovations in the late 19th century or when the concrete floor was laid in the 1930s and 1960s.

Watching Brief (1996)

NO 2538 0747 A watching brief was kept by Scotia Archaeology Ltd during the excavation of several drainage trenches within and outside a range of cellars beyond the E range of the palace. At the N end of the range, two sections of the original 16th-century drain system were uncovered; a third drain, to the immediate N of the cross-house, was a late 19th-century rebuild. The load-bearing walls of the E range, the cellars and the cross-house were set on bedrock.

Although exploratory trenching had already established that the concrete covering the floor of the hall in the E range was of 20th-century date (Smith 1995), its removal was also monitored during this programme.

Photographic Survey (1996)

Watching Brief (1997)

NO 253 074 Scotia Archaeology Ltd kept a watching brief during the excavation of trenches for a new drainage system along the N (courtyard) side of the S range of the palace. The excavation revealed a complex of existing drains including a stone-lined channel stretching 35m along the length of the range. This channel was 0.3m wide and varied in depth from 0.25m near the angle with the E range to 0.45m at its W end. The channel, together with an overlying U-shaped open drain, is thought to be of 19th-century origin.

Excavation (1998)

NO 2535 0745 This work is the continuation of a project started in 1994, investigating the remains of Falkland Castle. Excavation of the remains of the western D-shaped tower was undertaken, the purpose being to remove the disturbed material attributable to investigations carried out at the site by Lord Bute, late last century. Excavations revealed that most of the existing walling is of drystone construction, with two small patches of lime-mortared wall being the only remnants of the original building. Landscaping for the gardens has removed any trace of previous archaeological surfaces, with thin topsoil overlying degraded sandstone bedrock.

The site was filled in after excavation to a lower level, to allow later consolidation and interpretation of the remains.

Watching Brief (1 June 2002 - 30 June 2002)

NO 254 076 An archaeological watch was kept on the installation of earthing rods for the upgraded lightning conductors at Falkland Palace in June 2002.

The excavations were minimal in nature, and only the topsoil was disturbed. Two trenches within a cultivated bed on the W side of the castle yielded late 19th- to early 20th-century earthenware. No other finds or features were recorded.

Archive to be deposited in Fife SMR and the NMRS.

Watching Brief (1 February 2005 - 28 February 2005)

c NO 253 074 A watching brief was conducted in February 2005 during the excavation of five small holes to receive new signposts. The holes had a maximum depth of 0.6m and were 0.4m square. Trench 1 lay to the S of the entrance, trench 2 lay to the NW corner of the palace, trench 3 lay further to the N, and the remaining two trenches lay within the present garden area to the E and W respectively. Only trenches 1-3 contained anything of archaeological interest, in the form of a substantial rubble deposit.

Archive to be deposited in NMRS.

Sponsor: NTS.

Aerial Photography (28 July 2006)

Relatively short flight across Fife, producing some new material, but with large areas completely blank.

Standing Building Recording (January 2013 - February 2013)

NO 25345 07454 A programme of building recording and analysis was carried out, January–February 2013, during work to rake out cement from the W facade prior to repointing with lime mortar, as part of an ongoing programme of conservation works. Work to the E range identified three distinct phases of activity, which have been dated to the mid-15th to 16th century.

Phase 1 has been assigned to the early history of the castle, which is believed to be of probable 14th-century date, and lies to the immediate N of the palace site.

Phase 2 has been allocated to the early development of the palace following confiscation of the castle by the Crown by the early 15th century. Although existing narratives have focused on the works of James IV and James V in the late 15th and early 16th century, evidence has been identified which suggests that significant work to the palace was undertaken by James II, and later by his queen, Marie of Gueldres, including elements of the E range. In particular, documents survive to suggest that a long gallery was in existence by 1461; fabric of the E range suggests that it would have been located on the first floor, and provided a link between the hall to the N and the royal apartments in the S range. In 1461 two rooms were built in the gallery, in addition to the creation of a new chamber for the queen with a door leading to a pleasure garden below.

Phase 3 saw some internal alteration to the E range, creating additional apartments within the formerly open part of the gallery. However, the main focus of James IV’s work at Falkland appears to have been the reconstruction of the S range, incorporating the original rectangular gatehouse, with the creation of a chapel, and alterations to the E range. The key alterations to the E range appear to have been undertaken at the S end of the gallery perhaps as far north as the cross house where an E–W wall divided the apartments off from the remaining section of the open gallery. Fireplaces in the W wall at the S end of the gallery appear to date from the early 16th century.

James V’s work at Falkland Palace appears to have fallen into three campaigns. The reworking of the E rang is likely to have been completed around 1536; the alterations and additions to the S range were probably completed around 1539 and, finally, alterations and heightening of the gatehouse undertaken by 1541. The main works to the E range consisted of the insertion of buttresses onto the W elevation, the re-cutting of window and door openings, and some new insertions, to create a more regular facade. A series of small rectangular openings on the second floor were blocked and replaced with larger dormer windows. The former long gallery was converted into apartments, and on the E side of the building the whole range was thickened by the addition of a replacement gallery to overlook the gardens below. The inscriptions provided on the W elevation buttresses suggest that the works were completed around 1536. Externally the S range was altered by the addition of a stone gallery along its N side and some reworking of the parapet on the S elevation.

The impact of the restoration work in the 1890s and those areas of the range which were not subject to such intensive work are now extremely important, as they are the only parts of the building retaining archaeological evidence. It is clear that the development of the E range has a longer and more complex history than previously recognised.

Archive: RCAHMS. Report: The National Trust for Scotland

Funder: The National Trust for Scotland

Jonathan Clark, FAS Heritage, 2013

(Source: DES)

Geophysical Survey (9 November 2014 - 14 November 2014)

NO 25344 07454 A combination of geophysical techniques were used, 9–14 November 2014, to investigate the grounds of Falkland Palace as part of a wider archaeological evaluation of the site. The primary aim of the survey was to map any surviving buried remains associated with the ‘Nether Palace’ and remnants of earlier garden layouts. Resistance and gradiometer survey, were carried out over the lawn areas, while ground penetrating radar (GPR) was undertaken over tarmac/gravel areas.

The resistance survey detected numerous anomalies of potential interest across the site. The clearest anomalies detected were within the main lawn where a series of rectilinear high resistance responses have been detected indicating an earlier layout of the garden. Survey on the lawn to the N of the palace produced mixed results. Very strong anomalies associated with the landscaping around the palace ruins dominate the data. More ephemeral anomalies have been noted which may be associated with the Nether Palace, although interpretation is cautious.

The gradiometer data was extremely noisy due to the large amount of ferrous material in structures adjacent to the survey areas. However, anomalies of interest, including a monument base and services, have been detected. GPR survey of the tarmac areas within the palace courtyard identified numerous clear anomalies. Potentially significant anomalies possibly associated with the East Quarter have been detected. Coherent anomalies have also been detected to the W of the palace. While it is tempting to consider that these may be associated with a former West Quarter, such an interpretation is extremely tentative given the strong reflections from more recent layouts (eg drives) across the area.

Archive: Rose Geophysical Consultants

Funder: The National Trust for Scotland

Susan Ovenden - Rose Geophysical Consultants

(Source: DES, Volume 16)

Reference ( - June 2014)

A number of Pictish Symbol Stones & Cup and Ring Marked Stones are kept at Falkland Palace.

They are:

Westfield Farm NO20NW 13, NO20NW 13.01 and NO20NW 13.02

East Lomond Hill NO20NW 26

Glasslie Farm NO20NW 9

(Note from NTS SMR)

Information from NTS (SCS) June 2014

References

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