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Linlithgow, Linlithgow Palace

Palace (Medieval)

Site Name Linlithgow, Linlithgow Palace

Classification Palace (Medieval)

Canmore ID 49261

Site Number NT07NW 9

NGR NT 00196 77325

NGR Description Centred NT 00196 77325

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2017.

Digital Images

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

Administrative Areas

  • Council West Lothian
  • Parish Linlithgow
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District West Lothian
  • Former County West Lothian

Recording Your Heritage Online

Linlithgow Palace, mostly 1424-1624

Even stripped of the harl or limewash that once coated its stonework to make it glow like a jewellery box, robbed of its romantic roofscape of ridges, turrets, and tall fleur-de-lis finials, bereft of its statues and stained glass, the gilding of its pediments and dormer heads having rubbed off over the centuries, the palace remains magnificent

The 16th-century palace, with its large first-floor windows, timber galleries overlooking the loch, and fairy-tale entrance up the Kirkgate, lacked even the token defence of a drawbridge. (It was defensive against very little - hence Cromwell's destructive 1650 cordon sanitaire.) It was a pleasure dome on the European model: vivid, pretty, colourful and compact around a courtyard tinkling with its gorgeous fountain.

The raised lochside site was certainly fortified by the time Edward I imported James of St George (architect of Harlech) who may have been responsible for the barbican - stumps of whose round towers lie slumped against the eastern façade. In 1424, James I rebuilt the eastern (entrance) wing around a vaulted pend lent symbolic grandeur by great statues beneath cusped canopies. Steps from the courtyard led up to the great hall, or Lion Chamber.

Between 1488 and 1513, James IV, perhaps under the guidance of John Frenssh or William Bawty, completed the quadrangle with a chapel on the south and oratory and oriel on the north-west corner.

The palace reached its zenith, 1534-6, under master mason Thomas Frenssh directed by Sir James Hamilton of Finnart. Finnart refitted the Lion Chamber and the chapel: he may have been responsible for the new screen lining the south façade, concealing transes or corridors behind its vaguely Tudor windows, reworking the western wing, and regularising the southern façade. Now that the ornamental finials and statues, stained glass, gilt armorials and painted ceilings for which he was responsible have vanished, his principal legacy is the ceremonial route up the Kirkgate - through an outer ornamented gate with all King James V's chivalric orders, over a paved outer court to another diminutive gateway, through the pend to a new stair to the piano nobile, one edge of which is to be seen embedded in the north wall

The north wing collapsed in 1607, rebuilt 1618-24, by William Wallace in the most fashionable Danish Renaissance, emulating the south wing of Kronborg; octagonal stair, each window pedimented in gilt, skyline of tall chimneystacks, designed possibly by Sir James Murray of Kilbaberton. The fountain, c.1538, comprises an elaborately carved hexagonal well, two off-set stages above, a figure on each angle, decorated by flying buttresses between each stage, culminating in a crown; restored, 2005, by Historic Scotland.

You need a lot of imagination and sunny weather to transcend the sometimes damp and dreich - and wholly unnecessary - dereliction of the palace of Linlithgow to appreciate just how fine it was. The imaginative splendours recreated in the royal palace of Kolding in Denmark bring home how wasteful is the historical fossilisations such as we see at Linlithgow. It is no more architecturally or historically valid to leave Linlithgow in the state it is now than to refuse to rebuild St George's Hall at Windsor Castle.

Taken from "West Lothian: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Stuart Eydmann, Richard Jaques and Charles McKean, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press

Archaeology Notes

NT07NW 9.00 00196 77325

(NT 0020 7734) Linlithgow Palace (NR) (Rems of)

(NT 0022 7744) Bow Butts (NR)

OS 6" map, (1958).

NT07NW 9.01 NT 00196 77279 Gateway

NT07NW 9.02 NT 00166 77272 Lodge

NT07NW 9.03 NT 00209 77326 Royal Chapel

NT07NW 9.04 centred NT 0035 7735 The Peel - trial excavation; buildings; fort (possible)

NT07NW 9.05 NT 00464 77422 Pond

NT07NW 9.06 NT 00201 77347 Fountain

Linlithgow Palace - fully described, planned and illustrated in DoE official guide.

J S Richardson and J Beveridge 1948.

Excavations were carried out between November 1966 and February 1967 by the DoE in the sector of the Peel which lies W of the Kirkgate, before the area was built on. It was hoped to discover the nature and position of the peel of Edward I, but the results were disappointing. A good stratified sequence of 13th - 17th century pottery was obtained, however. The principally medieval finds of pottery, etc, which have been made during the last century or so, and are in Linlithgow Palace Museum, are described by L R Laing 1971.

L R Laing 1968; 1971.

As described.

Visited by OS(BS) 21 March 1974.

Excavation of a 15th century cellar took place in advance of refurbishment. Shortly after construction, a mortar floor was laid in the cellar, followed by the insertion of two parallel NS lines of wooden posts, of uncertain function, along the length of the room. At about the same time a low stone platform was built against the W and N walls. The posts and floor were superceded towards the end of the 17th century by a thick layer of redeposited midden on which was laid a stone flagged and cobbled floor.

J Cannell 1987.

The palace and surrounding buildings are visible on vertical air photographs (OS 73/399/296, flown 1973).

Information from RCAHMS (DE) January 1997

NT 0029 7732 and NT 0027 7735 Approximately 60m SE of the palace, aligned NW-SE and against the upper edge of the slope down, is a rectangular stone foundation, 10 x 6m, partly covered by turf. There are three possible artificial terraces, 30m E of the entrance to the palace, in the slope down to the flat ground on the S side of the loch.

C A-Kelly 1997

NT 0020 7734 In January 1999, a watching brief was conducted on the excavation of trenches for floodlighting cables and uplighting floodlights at Linlithgow Palace. The trenches, which were positioned along the N and W walls of the palace, were excavated manually by the contractors employed to install the lighting. All trenches were excavated under the supervision of an archaeologist and were approximately 0.3m wide and 0.3m deep. On the W side of the palace the nature of the trench varied. Towards the N of the trench were midden deposits containing shells (predominantly oyster), animal bone and eroded sandstone. Excavation of the northern trench revealed further midden deposits containing more oyster shells, animal bone, eroded masonry, post-medieval pottery and some fragments of window glass. This deposit appears to represent the last phases of occupation at the palace and presumably overlies a considerable depth of midden material.

Sponsors: Historic Scotland, West Lothian Council.

L H Johnstone 1999

NT 0015 7727 A slight scarp extends W for 32m from the SW corner of the palace, towards a number of irregular slight hollows around 7m in overall width. There is a straight-sided hollow 15m from the NW corner of the palace and along the top of the slope; it is 9m long by 3m wide. For around 26m beyond that, the top of the slope is noticeably ragged. These may be the remains of the palace garden.

C A-Kelly 2000

NT 0020 7734 Archaeological monitoring was required in August 2000 during the excavation of a trench for a new tree. The site was to the E of St Michael's Church, on a terraced area believed to contain a 15th-century access route leading up to the E side of Linlithgow Palace. The hole for the tree was dug wide enough and deep enough to allow a clear view of any sub-surface features that might be found within the area of the excavation.

The excavation did not find any definitive evidence of a substantial road or track. The layers exposed comprised modern topsoil landscaping sealing a 19th-century footpath, which in turn lay over a thick layer of sandy subsoil. Presumably the access route to the James I entrance on the E side of the palace would have been a reasonably solid structure reflecting the importance of the site. No such structure was either seen or indicated by the evidence from this minor excavation. Either the route lies further E, nearer the edge of the terrace, or the road has been landscaped away or possibly buried under later levelling material.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

D Stewart 2000

NT 0020 7734 A watching brief was undertaken in January 2001 during the excavation of a service trench at Linlithgow Palace (NMRS NT07NW 9), running from the W side of the palace, some 7.9m N of it's SW corner, to an existing pipe running parallel to the W wall. The W range of the palace is thought to have been completed by 1504, and to have had formal gardens to the W.

The small area of this trench necessarily limited what could be determined from this excavation. At a depth of 450mm, a soil deposit banked up against the palace wall. This deposit may well relate to the formal gardens recorded from the area.

A further watching brief was undertaken in June 2001 during the excavation of two trenches.

Trench 1 was excavated in advance of a commemorative tree planting. The trench lay on the enhanced natural terrace which defines the S side of 'The Peel' - the area of parkland which extends to the W and SW of the palace. It is likely that the terrace formed part of the access route to the main entrance to the palace (in its W range).

There was no trace of the approach road to the palace. It appears that the profile of the terrace is either largely natural, or represents the importation of a massive amount of redeposited natural sandy soils, as part of a major landscaping programme of the natural slope S of the loch. In either case, the soils revealed to a depth of 1m were essentially clean mixtures of sandy gravelly silt with water-washed stones throughout.

Trench 2 involved the removal of a series of crude wooden steps, where a shallow trench was cleared to receive new steps. The steps run from a platform at the head of a shallow harbour, next to a boatshed, up a prominent linear earthwork which lies on the W side of the harbour.

The shoreline of the loch which lies to the N of the Palace Peel is currently adapted for pleasure craft access, anchorage and beaching, centred generally around the small harbour. The creation of the latter has clearly rationalised the natural loch side as well as any residual earthworks. The excavation did not shed any light on the date of the bank but showed at least that it was not modern. The upper fabric of the bank was also not a natural deposit scarped to form the bank; rather it was a deliberate dump of material. There was no sign of any revetting deposit other than the present turf line, but this appears to have been levelled off, giving the bank its rather flattened top surface.

The bank appears to be either part of some sort of truncated artillery work or some early jetty/wharf arrangement, in association with a similar N-S aligned bank lying some 25m further W.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

G Ewart 2001

NT 002 773 A small excavation was undertaken in August 2002 to assess the potential damage to archaeologically significant deposits during the erection of two bollards to the W of the main entrance to the Palace. Two trenches were excavated to a depth of 750mm. It was shown that excavation below 450mm is likely to disturb significant archaeological remains.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: HS

G Ewart 2002

NT 002 773 As part of a proposal for establishing a new shoreline path, a walkover survey was completed in December 2002 on part of the loch side to the W of the Palace. The aim of the survey was to estimate the depth of water at the edge of the loch and to characterise present land-use by the shore. It was noted that backlots/burgage plots behind (N of) the W end of the High Street extend right to the edge of the present loch side. This may indicate that the loch level has risen and the loch area expanded in the generally shallow water at the W side of the loch. It seems likely that archaeological deposits have been submerged by the present shore line.

NT 002 773 Car park. Archaeological monitoring was undertaken in March 2003 during the excavation of a small trench for the erection of a cycle rack near the SW corner of the car park. The only feature of any archaeological significance was a wall of uncertain date orientated towards the middle of what is now the Park Constabulary¿s office, to the SW corner of the Palace. It possibly acted as a boundary wall for the gardens thought to have lain on the W side of the Palace.

NT 002 773 Well. Archaeological monitoring was undertaken in March 2003 during the excavation of a shallow track in the basement chamber of the NE corner of the Palace. This showed that the footings for the well projected some 250mm out beyond the limit of the well and were built with off-white sandstone. Nothing else of archaeological significance was noted.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: HS

G Ewart 2003

Architecture Notes

This site was surveyed as part of the Listed Buildings Recording Programme (LBRP) for 1999-2000.

The purpose of the survey, as directed by the Consultative Committee of the LBRP, was to provide detailed photographs of the carvings which adorn the exterior of the building and the internal faces of the courtyard.


Guardianship Monument

Dr J S Richardson - restoration of fountain 1937-39. Executant J Wilson Paterson


Dick Peddie & MacKay, Edinburgh Details for stained glass

Attic 2, Bin 6, Bag 3


Dick Peddie & MacKay, Edinburgh Scheme for restoration. Details of 16/17th c. woodwork

Attic 2, Bin 6, Bag 3


Scottish Record Office: MOW Records 21955/2B Parts 2 & 3

Scottish Record Office:

Linlithgow. Reparation of the Palace of Linlithgow.

Receipted account from Robert Levin, wright for #12.7.0.

His work included: Taking the roof off the Gardener's house in the Peill and taking out the old timber.

Supporting the roof above the stables.

Closing up of windows 'in the old work' and mending 3 windows 'in the new work', and closing up of doors to fence the towers and leads.

1721 GD 220/6/1333/17

Reparation of the Palace of Linlithgow.

Receipted account from Thomas Millar, slater, for #41.0.0.

His work included: Taking the rigging stone and slates of the Gardener's House in the Peill.

Casting the whole scarsements of the North work of the Palace with pan cratch and oyster shells.

Pointing the North East Tower.

1721. GD 220/6/1333/16

Reparation of the Palace of Linlithgow.

Receipted account from Thomas Moir, Wright, for #36 (Scots) for work at the Palace.

1725 GD 220/6/1333/20

Reparation of the Palace of Linlithgow.

Receipted account from John Scott, plumber, for #30.15.10 for lead work.

1725 GD 220/6/1333/19

Reparations of the Palace of Linlithgow.

Account of sums paid by the factor for deals for closing up the windows and for wright and smithwork.

1726 GD 220/6/1334/6

Reparations of the Palace of Linlithgow.

Receipted account from Alexander Colquhoun, slater, for work at the Palace for the Duke of Montrose.

1729 GD 220/6/1334/22

Mason work at the Palace of Linlithgow.

Receipted account from Alexander Bayers, mason.

It includes furnishing a stone 3'8" and 2' broad to close the entry 'wher the corps gos down to the burial place of the familie of Linlithgow'.

1732 GD 220/6/1335/15

Reparation of the Palace of Linlithgow.

Receipted accounts, and receipts for materials and work.

1731-1735 GD 220/6/1335/12-20

James I and VI to Earl of Mar, Treasurer.

Need to finish work on Palace of Linlithgow.

1621 GD 124/10/194

Repair of the Palace.

Note of sums paid to plumber and wright.

cash Book.

1720 GD 220/6/30/Page 564

Linlithgow Palace. Letters and report relating to state of building (6 items), including

(1) Letter from James Rae, sheriff clerk, Linlithgow, describing nuisances in courtyard, 18 Nov. 1820

(2) Letter from Donald Mackenzie, tenant of park, complaining of vandalism, 18 May 1825.

(3) Letter from John Gay, sheriff of Linlithgowshire, reporting that a 'flying buttress' on east side is giving way, 19 June 1832.

(4) Letter from Robert Reid on remedial work required, 25 June 1832.



Publication Account (1981)

A 'castle' at Linlithgow, dates to the reign of David I and is noticed in a charter of 1128 X 1136 which granted to Holyrood Abbey the skins of all rams, sheep and lambs which belonged to the king's 'castle' of Linlithgow (Lawrie, 1905, 118). Geoffrey Stell (i-n litt.) observed that the character of the earliest royal residence at Linlithgow is something of an unknown quantity and that it may have been of a more domestic manorial kind. Edward I in 1302 had this royal residence surrounded by stockading with wooden towers at fixed distances from each other. He also strengthened the stockading with stone and dug a ditch in front of it (Paton, 1957 lxiii). The 'castle' (and presumably the Edwardian peel) was dismantled in 1313 after a patriotic husbandman, William Bunnock, seized it. The structure was later rebuilt on the orders of David I.

James I was the promoter of the palace built on the site of the 'castle'. King James III made certain alterations and repairs, but James IV lavishly added galleries, stairs and passages (Richardson and Beveridge, 1976, 2). The palace was completed in the reign of James V when it developed its quadrangular form. James V and his daughter Mary were both born at the palace and James VI often visited it. Charles I spent the night of 1 July, 1633, in the palace and was the last monarch to stay in it. On the morning of February 1, 1746, it caught fire and the magistrates did nothing about it, saying they 'had no responsibility' (Richardson, 1976, 1). Some of the burgesses reputedly looted the ruined palace and the structure was allowed to decay until it came into government possession in 1832.

The ground floor and basement of the older sides of the palace contain cellarage, kitchens, guardrooms and a prison, while that of the north quarter contained store rooms and dwelling quarters (Richardson, 1976, 5). The north quarter before its reconstruction in 1618 also had the queen's chambers while the king's rooms were in the west quarter. The 'Lyon Chamber' or great hall, was on the east side, along with the main kitchen (Richardson, 1.976, 7).

Information from ‘Historic Linlithgow: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1981).

Publication Account (1985)

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).

Watching Brief (1989)

A watching brief was carried out in May 1989 during the excavation of service trenches in the courtyard of Linlithgow Palace.

Watching Brief (2 October 1995 - 24 October 1995)

NT 002 773 The excavation of four small pits for earthing lightning conductors was monitored by Kirkdale Archaeology between 2 October 1995 and 24 October 1995. Trench 1 was dug at the external base of the E wall of the Palace, close to the SE corner. It contained a substantial deposit of smashed sandstone (builders debris), up to 1m beneath turf and topsoil.

Trench 2 was dug at the base of the N wall of the Palace, close to the NE corner, and contained a deep deposit of midden material, including late and post-medieval pottery, overlying a clean subsoil at a depth of over 1m below present turf level.

Trenches 3 and 4 were cut against the base of the W wall of the Palace. Trench 3 was only dug to a depth of 0.5m, but revealed a rubble deposit over a dark, humic earth layer - possibly evidence of garden activity. Trench 4 was cut against a bank of redeposited loose rubble in a dark matrix, appearently dating to no later than the 19th century.

Sponsored by Historic Scotland

G Ewart 1995

Watching Brief (1996)

NT 0020 7734 Monitoring by Kirkdale Archaeology was undertaken of engineer's boreholes extracted from areas to the W, N and E of Linlithgow Palace. The boreholes revealed that the site has seen extensive landscaping, and elements of a possible earthwork were revealed.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

G Ewart and D Murray 1996

Watching Brief (2005)

An archaeological watching brief was carried out at the palace during the installation of new flood lights on the site. Trenches were dug where the existing cables for earlier lights had been laid, so as to cause as little disturbance as possible. The new cables were layed where the originals had been buried. No archaeological features or deposits were found in any of the trenches. A layer of concrete overlay a pebble layer, which lay on top of the subsoil.

B Will 2005

Watching Brief (18 February 2009 - 19 February 2009)

NT 00 77 A watching brief was maintained 18–19 February 2009 during the excavation of a series of eight small trenches in advance of the installation of new information boards near the Palace and around the lochside. There were no finds or features of archaeological significance.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

Claire Casey and Alan Radley – Kirkdale Archaeology

Watching Brief (20 April 2010)

NT 002 773 (centred on)

A watching brief was carried out on 20 April 2010 during the relocation of a sign (near the S elevation) to c0.5m SW of its original position and the installation of a new sign at the entrance to the Palace. Shallow trenches were excavated to house the new signs and the existing ‘Kirk’ sign removed. There were no finds

or features of archaeological significance.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

D Gorman 2010

Geophysical Survey (15 November 2013 - 25 November 2013)

NT 00196 77325 As part of an ongoing programme of work, a geophysical survey was undertaken, 15–25 November 2013, with the aim of locating any potential buried archaeological remains associated with Linlithgow Palace and its grounds. Resistance survey, at 0.5m by 0.5m intervals, was carried out over all suitable open grassed areas within the Historic

Scotland property boundary. Targeted Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey was carried out immediately to the W and E of the Palace.

These surveys identified a wealth of anomalies across the Palace Park and Peel. There is a wide variation in the nature of response and the background level of resistance across the site. Most striking is a very well defined area of relatively uniform, low resistance immediately to the NW and N of the Palace, which is thought to indicate the possible extent of the

previously known midden deposits. There are also marked variations in the level of response in the lower lying park area to the E of the Palace, where land has been reclaimed, resulting in rapid changes in the underlying soils from sands and gravels to silts.

To the W and N of the Palace numerous archaeologically significant anomalies have been detected by the resistance survey including ditches, possible walls and evidence of terracing. While some of the anomalies detected are visible in aerial photographs taken during the 1988 drought, far more detail is provided within the resistance data. Many of the anomalies detected have already been revealed by limited excavations in 2001 and 2002, but the resistance survey has placed these excavated features in their wider context. Overall, although interpretation is cautious in some cases due to the extensive landscaping of the site over the centuries, the resistance survey results suggest the potential for extensive in situ buried archaeological remains on the lower northern slopes of the promontory.

A wide variety of linear anomalies have been detected on the lower lying area to the E of the Palace. While many of these may be due to relatively modern drainage and/ or agricultural activity some may be more archaeologically significant possibly indicating different uses of the area

over time. Although the GPR survey has complemented the resistance survey results and provided better definition in some areas, the results are not striking. It is thought that this is due to insufficient contrast between features and their fill and extensive landscaping.

Archive: Rose Geophysical Consultants

Funder: Historic Scotland

Susan Ovenden – Rose Geophysical Consultants

(Source: DES)

Standing Building Recording (20 January 2014 - 26 February 2014)

NT 022 773 (centred on) An intensive programme of archaeological research was undertaken, 20 January – 26 February 2014, at Linlithgow Palace. This work involved documentary research, the development of an historical overview of the gardens, and detailed recording of the principal

spaces (components) of the palace, including a focused analysis of the evidence of timberwork within a number of the significant components of the upstanding remains.

Archive and report: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

David Murray – Kirkdale Archaeology

(Source: DES)

Standing Building Recording (16 October 2014 - 25 February 2015)

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

Watching Brief (9 February 2016 - 17 March 2016)

A watching brief was maintained during the removal of existing cobbles, ground preparation and the resetting of new cobbles within the courtyard of Linlithgow Palace against the east range and portions of the south range. Despite the relative shallowness of the excavations, this exercise was of value in furthering our understanding of the development of the palace via the differences in style and alignment of the various base courses encountered.


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