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Medieval Britain

Hunt for Edward's Fort Begins

Edited from BBC News, 10 December 2001

Archaeologists in 2001 were all set to begin excavations which, it was hoped, would uncover a seven hundred year-old fortress which had been built to keep control of Scotland when faced with opposition by William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.

Historic Scotland teams were due to start work in the grounds of Linlithgow Palace in mid-December 2001. They were hoping to find the remains of the fort which had been built by Edward I in 1302, which was destroyed by Robert the Bruce following his success at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

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 was hoping that the dig in the park surrounding the palace would uncover artefacts and timber fortifications which had been built by the English monarch. '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 him 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 was due to be scoured in an effort to find evidence of the fort. The area was believed to have been inhabited since the pre-Roman period, and the site of the fifteenth century palace existed as a manor from the twelfth century.

Bridgeland went further in his hopes by mentioning the possibility of turning up evidence of a glue factory which was demolished in the nineteenth century. The first aim of the excavation was to identify the scope of what is underneath the ground.

The dig was due to be completed by March 2002, when more specific excavations would take place to build on the initial reconnaissance.



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