The staff at Linlithgow Palace must have known I was in town because there was a special event planned for this weekend: jousting! The main event was jousting, but they had multiple demonstrations. When Jackie and I arrived at the Palace, we headed straight for the open field to see our first demonstration, an explanation of old-time Scottish military uniforms and weapons. After the explanation, the staff had a fake fight with children volunteers (basically, the children were given foam swords and were allowed to attack the men, who did nothing but make threatening noises). The fight was followed with a battle of tug-of-war between the children and the demonstrators.
Next was the jousting performance. I expected a jousting performance similar to one at a Renaissance Fair, but this one had much more acting and humor. It was really fun to watch; they had regular jousting, hand-to-hand (sword-to-sword) combat, and medieval training for the jousters. They even “punished” one of the actors by putting her into a sack attached to a horse and dragging her behind the horse as it circled the arena twice. She had to physically hold herself from falling out of the sack, so when she finally couldn’t hold on any longer, she flew out of the sack right in front of where Jackie and I were sitting. One of the funnier male actors (who is middle aged and a bit overweight) came over and proceeded to body slam her. She was about my age, and he made a joke that she was dead, so she needed the ‘kiss of life,’ and pretended to give her a big slobbery kiss. As he was getting off of her, he looked at the crowd, right at Jackie and I, and announced to everyone that it looked like we needed the ‘kiss of life’ also, puckered up his lips and started walking towards us. The Lord/announcer of the event shouted to “leave the real people alone and come back with the idiots.” It was really funny, and we were the only people who were personally picked out of the crowd and included in part of a joke.
After the demonstrations, we headed up the hill and back to the palace. Linlithgow Palace is in ruins, the ceilings and some floors are completely missing (below is a photo of fire places and doorways in the middle of a wall because the floor fell through). It is located in a peel (park) and overlooks a loch (lake). Linlithgow means “the loch in the damp hollow.” James I started to build the palace in 1424, after the previous palace burned down. The palace housed most of the Stewart kings. The palace served as a resting place for the royal family when traveling between Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle.“The ancient palace served as the royal nursery for James V (born 1512), Mary Queen of Scots (born 1542) and Princess Elizabeth (born 1596), better known as ‘the Winter Queen’” (www.historic-scotland.gov.uk).
The old towers still have their spiral staircases intact, so we were able to climb up those and get a bird’s eye view of the castle and Linlithgow loch. I thought that the drainage system was really interesting, Jackie was making fun of me for taking so many photos of it. I also liked how the mortar between the large stones was coated with little pebbles; it was a nice decorative detail.
The palace is designed in a quadrangular form with four ranges grouped around a central courtyard. In the center of the courtyard of the palace there is a beautiful three-tiered ‘wedding-cake’ fountain. It is only in full flow every Sunday in July and August. Jackie and I were lucky to see it flowing today.
After we left the palace, we got some milkshakes (mine was raspberry) at So Strawberry Caffé! It was a nice treat before me headed back to the house.