Linlithgow Palace in central Scotland. Medieval and Rennaissance castle.

Linlithgow Palace
plan of the progress of building at linlithgow

There was already a royal manor house here before the invasion of the English King, Edward I, at the end of the 1200's. Edward set about fortifying it with ditches and wooden palisades so that by the time of the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 he was using it as a base and garrison. Upon the defeat of the English at Bannockburn, it reverted to the Scots.

The story goes that one William Bunnock smuggled eight men into the castle hidden in a cart-load of hay who jumped out (to the surprise of the English garrison) and took it back.

King David II continued its rebuilding but it was not until a devastating fire which destroyed most of the town did James I, in 1424, set in motion an ambitious plan to transform it into the beginnings of the large stone built castle it is today.

James I's original entrance

James I concentrated his building at what is now the East side of the Square plan castle. His entrance, the original entrance (left), was high up in the wall and surmounted by the royal coat of arms and flanked by niches which may have held statues of St Andrew and St James. A drawbridge would have allowed access from an outer barbican which led away to the East past another of his buildings, the new Church of St Michael which is still in use today.

The Great Hall

Of central importance was, and still is, the enormous Great Hall on the first floor above the entrance (right). About 30 feet wide and 100 feet long it had a massive stone fireplace at one end and kitchens at the other.

During the reigns of James III and IV building progressed until the palace became enclosed in its present square plan. The West range, the last to be completed, contained the new royal apartments for James IV and his Queen, Margaret Tudor daughter of English King Henry VII. A new chapel was built, and many renovations carried out including rebuilding the kitchens and re-roofing of Great Hall.

Facade of the North Range

Further additions were built under James V, especially the changing of the original entrance to the present one in the South range, and a further gate house aligned with it. It is this gate house through which visitors today approach the Palace from the town of Linlithgow (below left).

James V's gateway

The last building to be done was James VI's North range containing further apartments and a Long Gallery. This has a fine renaissance facade reminiscent of Blois in the Loire Valley, France, although it is much simpler in form and decoration.

Façade of the North range, 1618-1624

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