Linlithgow Palace: A “fine but melancholy ruin”

Linlithgow Palace. Photo credit: baaker2009 via Flickr.

Linlithgow Palace. Photo credit: baaker2009 via Flickr

Second in our series about Scotland’s iconic castles is Linlithgow Palace, not far from Edinburgh Castle which we covered last week.

A royal retreat

When Scotland’s royals needed a break from the political intrigue of busy Edinburgh, they retreated to Linlithgow Palace, a regal getaway just 15 miles west of the city along the road linking Edinburgh with Stirling.

This 1424 palace overlooks a small inland loch and Linlithgow Peel, a park brimming with wildfowl, including slender-necked great crested grebes, the tufted duck, and the mute swan.

Mary, Queen of Scots’ royal nursery

Scottish poet Robert Burns called Linlithgow Palace “a fine but melancholy ruin”, as a fire left it roofless and ruined in 1745. Still, some of the grandeur of the 15th and 16th centuries remains, a time when it was one of the principal residences of the monarchs of Scotland.

Linlithgow Palace courtyard / Melody Moser

Linlithgow Palace courtyard / Melody Moser

You’ll feel a sense of awe as you enter the courtyard, with its three-tiered ‘wedding-cake’ fountain adorned by carvings of musicians and mermaids.  After all, somewhere among these ancient ruins exists a room that served as the royal nursery for Mary Queen of Scots, among other royals. That was back in 1542, and while it’s not known exactly which room it was, there are several possibilities.

One, at the top of the northwest tower, is called Queen Margaret’s Bower. You can reach it by climbing the Queen’s Turnpike stair. Perhaps a nursemaid once held baby Mary here, a baby who’d be crowned queen at less than a year old. We may never know, but Mary became one of the most romantic and tragic figures in British history.

Melody at Linlithgow Palace / Melody Moser

Melody enjoying the view from Linlithgow Palace / Melody Moser

Fabulous views

Enjoy the tower’s panoramic views, then descend to admire the rest of the palace, including the stone-carved figures of angel musicians in the Royal Chapel and the Oriels, elegant projecting windows off the king’s and queen’s bedchambers.

Have you been to Linlithgow Palace?  What did you think of it?  Share in the comments below!

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About Melody Moser

Melody Moser is a Travel Expert & Travel Writer specializing in Europe, river cruises and romantic travel. Based in southern New Jersey, she spends her time traveling the world, writing about it, and helping others fulfill their travel dreams.