History Files


Medieval Britain

Hunt for Edward's Fort Begins

Edited from BBC News, 10 December 2001

Archaeologists are to begin excavations which it is hoped will uncover a 700-year-old fortress built to keep control of Scotland against William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.

Historic Scotland teams will start work in the grounds of Linlithgow Palace on Monday.

They are hoping to find the remains of the fort built by Edward I in 1302 and destroyed by Robert the Bruce after the battle of Bannockburn.

The fort was the scene of Scotland's own "Trojan Horse" incident, when a small number of Scots - inspired by Bruce - leapt out from a cart of hay and slaughtered the English garrison.

Nick Bridgeland of Historic Scotland said it was hoped that the dig in the park surrounding the palace would uncover artefacts and timber fortifications built by the English monarch.

He said: "We know that Edward I built a massive fortification at Linlithgow in 1302 in the midst of the Scottish Wars of Independence.

"It was a huge mound, making full use of the natural geology of the site, and cutting a giant ditch between himself and the town to protect himself from attack.

"It was seen as a good place from which to control Scotland. It was simple military tactics."

Any visible ruins of the fortress were destroyed by James I - who rebuilt the existing Linlithgow Palace after it was destroyed by fire in 1424.

Some 1,000 square metres of land will scoured in an effort to find evidence of the fort.

The area is believed to have been inhabited since before Roman times, and the site of the fifteenth century palace existed as a manor from the twelfth century.

Mr Bridgeland said: "We could turn up artefacts dating from Roman times to evidence of a glue factory which we know was demolished in the nineteenth century."

He added: "The first aim of the excavation is to identify the scope of what is underneath the ground."

The dig is due to be completed by March, when more specific excavations will take place to build on the initial reconnaissance.



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