Linlithgow - once a bustling noisy centre around the royal palace of Linlithgow - is, these days, a small town with cobbled streets and high property values, some fifteen miles from Edinburgh.
The most famous property of all, Linlithgow Palace, was burned out by Cromwell’s men, and the ruin today stands proud above Linlithgow loch.
This photograph, taken by a friend, is just inside the arched entrance - in its day the Palace was magnificent, and the birthplace of every Scottish royal up to and including Mary Queen of Scots. She was the last - her son James VI, who would later become James I, the first of the Stuart kings of England, was born at Edinburgh Castle. These days, and purely in passing, probably the most well-known person who will be born in Linlithgow is Scotty of Star Trek fame . . .
Scotland’s history is one of family and pride, blood and war and fierce conflict, clan against clan until the Romans ventured over the border and were fiercely beaten back behind Hadrian’s Wall, or unless the English tried again to take and subdue the country. The Scots ventured across that border often enough themselves: to this very day you can tell whether someone’s ancestry is north or south of the border, in the way they react to the sound of the pipes. Those who have to fight down the urge to run likely have their origins in the north of England, generation after generation learning from parents flinching at the sound, as their parents had flinched, and theirs, all the way back to the days when the dreaded sound of the pipes meant invasion and war.
Edward Longshanks (Edward I of England, the Hammer of the Scots) took and held Scotland, in the 13th century, and it was the start of a period of great hardship for the Scots - he carved the country into huge estates, which he gave to his barons, and they cleared the crofters and farmers off those estates, knocked down their houses, and sent them into exile abroad, desperate to make lives for themselves, carve out a future for their families. They succeeded to the point where there is barely a country in the world without a Caledonian tradition - there are literally millions of us who can claim a trace of Scottish ancestry. Many, of course, stayed put to rebel, again and again - Bonnie Prince Charlie, William Wallace (Braveheart) and Robert the Bruce, who caught up the baton when Wallace had been drawn and quartered, are perhaps the best known. Few can hold a grudge like a Scot - some resentment lingers to this day, with our fiery little First Minister trying yet again to raise enough support to try again for independence. Not sure how that will go. Scots are also extremely pragmatic.
However, the result for the modern tourist is a country with magnificent castles, keeps and fortresses, distinctive clan tartans, the most blood-stirring musical instrument ever made, and a national drink which will keep out the drafts, pour iron into your backbone, and add that essential kick to your step to make your kilt flare out just so as you march. Much of the history is steeped in blood and conflict, and the shame of the Glencoe Massacre in 1692 still casts a brooding chill over the glen - although that may also be the soaring mountains, which boasted the first ski resorts in Scotland.
It isn’t the gentlest climate in the world, but stone-age ancestors lived in hollows in the ground which have been excavated and can be visited, although I for one found it unnerving to have to cross a field full of cows on the way to Cairnpapple. The Romans gave up on conquest and built Hadrian’s wall to stop the rampaging Scots from pouring down on them after the lesser-known Antonine wall was breached again and again. Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle dominate their skylines for miles around.
At the other end of the scale, James Watt’s cottage can still be visited, it’s not very far from me. Well, it wasn’t his only residence in his life, engineers have to go where the work is, but he lived there for a while developing a steam pump for clearing water out of mines. Scots have always been great inventers, explorers, mathematicians, organizers, engineers and the warmest, friendliest and most argumentative people you could share a dram with, anywhere in the world, then and now. The important thing, really, is that they are always tha mi toilichte ur coinneachadh (that’s pleased to meet you. Dinnae fash, all Scots speak English!)
To read The city under the city: Edinburgh’s extraordinary basement by author E J Lamprey, click on the link below.
About author E J Lamprey
Elizabeth (E J) Lamprey lives in Scotland, within easy distance of Edinburgh. She loves Scotland but accepts that with a mere fifteen years residence she is still considered a tourist, albeit a tenacious one.
She has been variously a book reviewer on a city paper, a columnist in a national magazine, a copy-editor and critiquer, a commercial blogger and a reporter on a country newspaper, usually alongside more conventional jobs, using her maiden name, her married name, or Lamprey, which is just one of the four names with which she was lavishly endowed at birth, and the one she likes the most.
Writing a series of cheerful whodunits set in a Scottish retirement village is her favourite occupation, but a secret passion for SF led to a couple of books appearing under the name Joanna Lamprey. Quite recently the research into singles websites that started with the third Lawns book spawned another book, this time under the tongue-in-cheek name Clarissa Rodgers-Briskleigh.
One thing all the books share is the celebration of being no longer young, yet quite definitely not yet old. It is nature's unexpected and welcome gift, a burst of autumn sunshine and energy, and although that wasn't the original intention, all the books celebrate it to the full.
The Grasshopper Lawns books
All my Grasshopper Lawns books are set in the Firth of Forth area which is around 20 miles from Edinburgh, but only one of them, Seven Eight Play It Straight, spends a lot of time in Edinburgh, for the festival. However, it does go underground, and I talk a lot about the Old Town in the book, Seven Eight Plays it Straight.
Historical Authors would love your help to share this blog link with others. Your comments are also welcome.
Author, artist, Ryn Shell is the chief blogger, site sponsor, and volunteer author's cross-promotion manager for the historical fiction authors whose blogs appear on this website.
Modern Crime Authors
Historical Fiction & History
Clean Cozy Authors
Rural-lit & Fine Arts
eBook Covers & Promotions