Linlithgow Cross, an important stone built Scottish structure which has been renewed over a period of 500 years.
(Above image is a capture of Linlithgow Cross)
This evening, my focus is on an unusual topic, namely the extravagant fountain at Linlithgow in eastern Scotland which has a along and colourful history interwoven with the Scottish/British state.
Although not on the main 'tourist trails' Linlithgow has much to offer the visitor as manifested in:
- Former Royal Palace (birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots),
- Pleasant loch (lake) around which it is possible to take a leisurely stroll.
- Historic church.
- Battle site.
- A range of quaint and interesting shops.
- Outlander connection.
- Canal (pleasure boating).
Image below shows the Cross (centre left) in context of the square in which it sits.
Before piped water was introduced it was common for communities to have access to a public well. In Linlithgow's case the well was just a hundred yards or so from the palace of the Scottish royalty and hence it had special significance and benefited from elaborate design. Here is a chronology of Linlithgow's Well (or Cross or Fountain):
- Established around 1535 by King James V.
- Dilapidation required a rebuild (in form of a fountain) in 1628. Earlier, in 1603 the crowns of England and Scotland had been joined and the 'new' Cross was embellished with symbolism of the new order including a statement of loyalty to the monarch.,
- In 1650 Oliver Cromwell arrived fresh from his military victory at nearby Dunbar and the beheading the previous year of the monarch, Charles 1.Cromwell overwintered at Linlithgow Palace. Both Cromwell and his army were not sympathetic to royalist inspired decoration on the Cross as a consequence of which the structure suffered extensive damage and remained a ruin until Cromwell's death in 1658.
- Repaired in 1658 by a stonemason named Thomsone. At this time the Cross was coated with a combination of linseed oil and white lead which may have resulted in a brilliant white finish.
- By 1806 the Cross had again became dilapidated consequent upon which the Town Council commissioned a new, exact replica, to be built and this was completed by 1808.
- Further conservation work was commissioned in 2016 entailing the stonework, replacement floodlighting and re-installation of the water supply thus ensuring continuity of the 500 year-old link with Linlithgow.