In 2008 the Scottish Parliament sent out a consultation paper entitled ‘Historic Battlefields’ as part of the Scottish Historic Environment Policy. Within its introduction it states that Scottish ministers recognise battlefields as:

‘… an important element of Scotland’s Historic environment that contributes to our sense of national identity.’

It goes onto to define the role a battlefield may fulfil in society in that:

‘The battle may have contributed to historical development , including military history, both within Scotland and beyond. The battlefield may contain physical remains or the potential to yield valuable archaeological evidence that can add to documentary records and provide details about events not available through other sources. Some battlefields may contain the final resting place of fallen combatants…. The association of the landscape with a battle can be very strong and a battlefield can contribute to the character of a landscape and to its sense of place. Finally battlefields can hold a significant place in our national consciousness and have a strong sense or resonance in Scottish culture, expressed for example in art, music and literature’

It would appear that a battlefield is many things to many people and their presence influences the society that surrounds it.

Linlithgow is blessed to have a battlefield within the burgh to add to its rich history. The aim of this project is to protect, nurture and utilize this valuable asset.

The Battle of Linlithgow Bridge, fought in 1526 between Earls of Arran, Angus and Lennox, has been somewhat lost to the ravages of history. This may be because there was no major historical fallout from the battle or perhaps it was not seen by historians as politically astute to highlight conflict between fellow Scots in a history more noted for its wars against the ‘Auld Enemy’, England. Whatever the motive, historians have tended to by-pass the event with little or no reference. Now we find that not even those that live on or around the site are aware of its historical significance. It would appear that the courage of the people of West Lothian in standing up to force twice its size and the sacrifice of those 2,000 men that were subsequently killed there has been forgotten about.

In 2004 a book was published called ‘The Heart and The Rose’. This was the culmination of 3 years of research which pulled together the little information there is on the battle and presented a number of theories as to the location of the fighting. The modern day Ordnance Survey (OS) maps clearly show the site on the south east side of the River Avon at the foot of Peace Hill, now a quarry site owned by RMC Aggregates. However battlefields are not confined by modern boundaries or the immediate vicinity of a symbol on a map. The battle at Linlithgow Bridge is fortunate to have a number of surviving landmarks associated with it which prove that the site is more expansive than the OS symbol would infer. It is these fragile traces in the landscape that will be the focus to the conservation and utilisation of the site.

It is the belief of this project team that the creation of a Battlefield Trail, linking these locations, will bring this battle back into the consciousness of the people of the burgh and the nation.