After we left from our final day in Edinburgh, we began the road trip portion of our travels. It was so exciting leaving the city for the famed Scottish Highlands, but before we could travel that far north, we had a few stops to make. One of those stops being Linlithgow Palace.
You may have noticed that Linlithgow Palace wasn't on our itinerary - Cairnpapple Hill was instead. We had some timing issues with Cairnpapple Hill and as bummed as I was about it being closed the day I wanted to go, it ended up working out perfectly. Linlithgow Palace has a rich history and is mostly affiliated with Mary Stuart, or Mary Queen of Scots. If you know any British history, you know that Mary Queen of Scots was a huge historical figure and continues to be today. Crowned Queen of Scotland at only six days old, and then rushed away at age five to be raised in France due to threats on her life, Mary's short life was one of plotting, death threats, arranged marriages, and fights for several thrones. If you're interested in learning more about Mary Stuart's life, definitely check out a non-fiction text about her by Antonia Fraser here.
Linlithgow Palace itself is located only about 15 miles from Edinburgh and is an ideal stop if you plan to travel to Stirling or simply want a day outside of the city during a trip to Edinburgh. The location has ties all the way back to the 12th century, but it was remodeled in the 15th century as a residency for Scottish monarchs and their families.
Mary Stuart was actually born in Linlithgow Palace and I got chills standing in the very room of her birth (pictured above). The Palace is ruins now (only stone remains) due to a fire consuming its structure, but you can still make out walls, windows, doors, and fireplaces thanks to its sturdy-built stone walls. We walked from floor to floor of the castle, once meant for royalty, now home to the here-or-there tourist. Located just outside of the Palace is St. Michael's Church were an infant Mary was baptized. The church has its own unique and interesting history, so making a pit stop there is worth the time. The staff in the church are extremely kind and helpful; the man working there gave us a brief history of the building and a sheet explaining different areas of the structure.
Also located outside of the Palace is a walking track called The Peel. Visitors can walk around the grounds to get breathtaking views of the castle, the city, the water surrounding the grounds, and the grounds themselves. There is a newly added statue of Mary Queen of Scots erected on The Peel, as well, pictured below.
One of the best things about Linlithgow Palace is that although it was ruined by fire, you can still walk the stairs and view each floor as Mary and her monarch parents may have done. Everything was built of stone so the what perished in the fire would have been decorative, not structural (except maybe the roof). I had the most surreal moment climbing the staircases and viewing the town of Linlithgow below the turrets. Had Mary Queen of Scots or her parents, Mary of Guise or James V, done this, too? Fun fact: According to the Internet (everything you read on there is definitive, right?) Mary's mother's ghost haunts the Palace. Another fun fact: James V, Mary Stuart's father, was the son of Margaret Tudor, sister of the famed Henry VIII. This contributed to Mary's death by beheading - by her own cousin, Elizabeth I of England, daughter of Henry VIII - due to her connection to the English throne. Talk about an interesting family tree that I could spend all day talking about, and a real life Game of Thrones. Seriously, read the book hyperlinked in the second paragraph - such an interesting story.
As I mentioned. Linlithgow Palace wasn't on our list of places to visit, and prior to touring the Palace, I wasn't very familiar with it or its history. For ease of travel, we purchased an Explorer Pass from Historic Scotland which allowed entrance into all of their sites. We saved quite a bit of money by doing this, and even got to see several places we hadn't originally planned because they were on the "free entrance" list. You can purchase your own pass or learn more on their website, here.
Hi, I'm Madeline
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