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.
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.
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!