Linlithgow Tourist Attractions
The town of Linlithgow (pop. 4,300) lies 4mi/6.4km west of House of the Binns and it possesses a fine row of well-preserved 16th century houses.The Linlithgow Houses are owned by the National Trust of Scotland. The houses were restored in 1658, and let.
Viewed from the east, Blackness Castle (3mi/4.8km to the west of Edinburgh) resembles the hull of a ship with its bow and stern marked by two towers. The fort was built in the 15th C above a harbor that has since disappeared. It was used as a prison for Covenanters, from 1870 as a weapons store and more recently as a Youth Hostel. In 1990 a version of "Hamlet" starring Mel Gibson was filmed against the backdrop of the castle.
House of the Binns
Although this country house has been under the administration of the National Trust for Scotland since 1944, the Dalyell family still live in one of the wings of the "Binns". Situated 2mi/3.2km to the south of Blackness Castle, the house has been fully restored and was re-opened in 1993. Little remains of the medieval fort (15th C) with most of the building work taking place between 1615 and 1630. Tam Dalyell was a wealthy businessman who led a turbulent life fighting as a Royalist against the Covenanters. When Charles II was deposed, he served the Russian tsar and it is said that he even escaped from the Tower of London. Of particular interest are the stone chimneys and the stucco ceilings (mid-17th C) in the High Hall and the King's Room where the heraldic emblems of England and Scotland are joined in a decorative manner.
Linlithgow Palace is a castle set in an attractive lakeside location and is the birthplace of Mary Stuart in 1542. Begun in 1424, it was almost 200 years before the castle with its tower defenses was completed. A few months after "Bonnie Prince Charlie" stayed here, the four-winged building fell victim to a major fire. James V belonged to four knightly orders and their emblems can be seen above the external castle gate: the English garter, the Scottish thistle, the golden fleece of Burgundy and the royal lily of France. The gatehouse on the east front, the main entrance under James I, bears the royal coat-of-arms. An octagonal fountain built by James V in 1530 adorns the middle of the inner courtyard and a replica can be seen in front of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. The 100ft/30.5m long Great Hall by Lyon Chalmer gives some idea of the palace's splendor. It has a 23ft/7m wide three-part mantelpiece, which was added during the reign of James I at the beginning of the 15th century. The frieze and tapestries in Mary Stuarts's chamber in Holyroodhouse give a clear impression of how the royal bedchamber here might once have looked.
St Michael's Church
A historic site near Linlithgow is St Michael, a large burgh church dating from pre- Reformation times. Consecrated in the 13th C work was restarted after 1424 and finally completed in the middle of the 16th C. The nave (1497) and the choir (1531) are particularly impressive and the tracery on the windows in the Catherine side aisle is worth noting. The late Gothic window in the south chapel is regarded as one of the finest of its kind in Scotland.
About 4mi/6.4km south of Linlithgow lie the stones of Cairnpapple Hill. This prehistoric sacred site probably dates from the Neolithic Era about 3000 B.C., although the stone circles and burial chamber were probably added during the early Bronze Age by the Beaker people.
Linlithgow Heritage Centre
The Linlithgow Heritage Centre (143 High Street) tells the story of this historic town which was the birthplace of May Queen of Scots.