Old County of West Lothian


A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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1834-45: Linlithgow

Linlithgowshire or West Lothian, a midland county of Scotland, on the southern edge of the upper reach of the Firth of Forth. It is bounded N by the Firth, SE by the county of Edinburgh, SW by Lanarkshire, and NW by Stirlingshire. In shape it is an irregular four-sided figure, running south-westward from the shore of the Firth. Along the northern side, from W to E, in a straight line, from the mouth of the Avon to the mouth of the Almond, is 14½ miles; the SE side, in a straight line from the mouth of the Almond to the point where the counties of Edinburgh, Lanark, and Linlithgow meet, at the junction of Fauldhouse Burn with the Almond, is 19½ miles; the SW side, from the point just indicated to the point on North Calder Water, between Black Loch and Hillend Reservoir (see Lanarkshire), where the counties of Stirling, Lanark, and Linlithgow meet, is 7 miles, but as this side is very irregular it is, following the curves, about double this; and the NW side, from the point mentioned straight to the mouth of the Avon, is 10 miles. The boundaries are mostly natural. From the mouth of the Avon eastwards to the mouth of the Almond, the line follows the shore of the Firth; it then turns SW along the course of the Almond for 1v0½ miles, till at Clapertonhall Burn it turns north-westward along its course and across to Caw Burn, up which it passes to the source. North of Mossend it turns again back by the SW side of Howden grounds to the Almond, the course of which it then follows for 3 miles to the junction of the Briech. Here it takes to the course of that stream, and follows it up for 8½ miles to the mouth of Fauldhouse Burn, which is the extreme S point of the county. After following this burn to its source, the line passes across Fauldhouse and Polkemmet moors, E of the village of Harthill, to the How Burn, down which it passes to the junction with a burn from the N, whence it follows the course of the latter, till within ¾ mile of its source. It then passes straight N by W to Barbauchlaw Burn, and up its course to a point 3 furlongs N by E of Forrestburn Mill, and thence in an irregular line to the sharp bend on North Calder Water between Black Loch and -Hillend Resevoir E of the reservoir. It follows up the course of this stream for ¾ mile, and then crossing to the source of Drumtassie Burn, follows the burn 4¾ miles to the Avon, and thence the course of the Avon, for 12¾ miles, to the sea. Along almost the whole course of these streams the scenery is soft and prettily wooded. The area of the county is 126.74 square miles or 81,113½ acres, of which 38571/4 are foreshore and 4561/4 are water. Of the land surface of 76, 800 acres, 59,575 were under cultivation in 1882, and 4899 under wood, an increase of about 1000 acres in the former case within the last thirty years, and in the latter case of 1v577 acres within the same period. About 6000 acres, mostly in the centre and SW, are heath, rocky ground, and rough pasture. The mean summer temperature is 58o, and the mean winter temperature 37o, while rain or snow falls on an average on two hundred days of the year, the mean depth being about 32 inches, though, of course, it varies considerably, and is higher in the upper districts than in the lower. Among the counties of Scotland, Linlithgow is thirty-first as regards area, the only smaller ones being Cromarty, Kinross, and Clackmannan, but eighteenth as regards population, and twenty-third as regards valuation.

Surface, etc.—The coast-line is pretty regular, the principal projections being at Borrowstounness; the head on which Blackness Castle stands, 3¾ miles to the E; and Hound Point, on the E, within the grounds of Dalmeny House. In the bay, W of Borrowstounness, as well as at Drum Sands, E of Hound Point, a large amount of foreshore is exposed at low water, and at the mouth of the Avon at Kinneil Kerse or Carse an embankment has been made reclaiming a considerable amount of land. Along the coast there is a flat, and from this the ground rises in long rolling undulations or chains of heights trending in a general line from E to W, but very much broken up by cross hollows, and reaching towards the extreme S an average height of about 700 feet. Nowhere hardly does one see more hillocks, and these, while they give variety and picturesqueness to the landscape, here take but little from the value of the ground, for they are all available for wood or pasture, and are in some cases even capable of being ploughed. The highest summits lie between Linlithgow and Bathgate, the line to the N consisting of the Kipps, Riccarton and Binny hills; the chief summits, from W to E, being Bowden Hill (749 feet), Cocklerue or Cuckold le Roi (912), Riccarton Hills (832), and the sharp peak of Binny Craig (7h8). Nearer Bathgate are the Torphichen Hills (777 feet), Cairn-naple (1016), Knock (1000), and the sharp detached Dechmont Law (686). From these the ground slopes W to the valley of the Avon, S to the flat at Bathgate, and E towards Kirkliston and Blackburn, where there is a considerable space of level country. To the N of Linlithgow is Bonnytoun Hill or Glower-o'er-'em (559 feet), on which there is a monument to Brigadier-General Adrian Hope, who fell in the Indian Mutiny; the NW slope is known as Irongarth; and farther E are Mons Hill, Craigie Hill, and Dundas Hill, in Dalmeny; and Craigton Hill and Binns Hill, in Abercorn; the greatest height in the former case being 387 feet, and in the latter 372. All the heights command wide and pretty views of the Lothians and Stirling, with the Forth and its wooded banks in the middle distance against a background of hills. The whole of the northern part of the county is beautifully wooded. The drainage of the county is effected mainly by the streams already mentioned as flowing along its borders and by their tributaries. In the extreme S, about Whitburn and Blackburn, Cultrig or White Burn, Bickerton Burn, and Foulshiels Burn, with the smaller streams that join them, flow NE to the Almond; to the NE about Livingston are the Lochshot, Dean, and Folly Burns; and farther to the NE still, about Uphall, are Caw Burn, Beugh Burn, and Brox Burn, the whole five joining the Almond, as does also Niddry Burn, which passes eastward by Ecclesmachan and Niddry. In the part of the county to the W and SW of Bathgate there is a small stream joining Drumtassie Burn; and this latter, Barbauchlaw Burn, and Logie Water, all join the Avon, to which also flow Kipps Burn N of Torphichen, and a small burn W of Linlithgow, with a branch coming from Linlithgow Loch. To the N, flowing directly into the Firth of Forth, are the small Den or Dean and Gil Burns at Kinneil House on the W, Blackness Burn at the castle of the same name, the Haugh and Nethermill Burns uniting and reaching the sea at Abercorn, and Dolphington Burn passing through Dalmeny grounds and reaching the sea about the centre of Drum Sands. The only loch in the county is that at Linlithgow Palace, which was noticed in our article on the burgh. Other small lochs which once existed on Drumtassie Burn near Drumtassie, at Lochcote near Kipps, at Balbardie near Bathgate, at West Binny, and at Dundas Castle, are now drained. NE of Bathgate is a reservoir for the Bathgate water supply. Some of the streams at one time afforded good fishing, but refuse from oil and other works have now destroyed it, though the Almond, in consequence of legal proceedings, is again much purer and beginning once more to contain trout. There are mineral springs, but of no value, near Torphichen, Kipps, Caribber House, the church of Ecclesmachan, and Borrowstounness.

Geology.—The solid rocks which enter into the geological structure of this county belong, with few exceptions, to the four great divisions of the Carboniferous system, viz., the Coal-measures, the Millstone Grit, the Carboniferous Limestone, and the Calciferous Sandstones. From the official publications of the Geological Survey, and especially from the lucid description of the geology of the neighbourhood of Edinburgh by Dr Archibald Geikie, it is easy to grasp the order of succession and disposition of the strata throughout the county. Owing to the occurrence of oil-shales in the Calciferous Sandstone series and the presence of valuable coal seams in the Carboniferous Limestone group and in the Coal-measures, the geology of Linlithgowshire is of special importance. But apart from the economic value of the strata, this county is attractive to the geologist from the remarkable development of contemporaneous volcanic rocks which are interstratified with the members of the Carboniferous Limestone series.

Beginning with the oldest members of the system we find that they belong to the Cementstone group of the Calciferous Sandstone series. As developed in this county, they present those features which are commonly met with in the basin of the Forth. They may be described as consisting of white and yellow sandstones, black and blue shales, clay ironstones with bands of marine limestone, and an occasional seam of coal. Sometimes the beds are crowded with plant remains such as Sphenopteris, sometimes they are charged with teeth of ganoid fishes and remains of Leperditia or other ostracods, while certain bands of shale and limestone yield typical marine forms. From the character of the organic remains it is evident that alternatively estuarine and marine conditions must have prevailed during the deposition of the beds. The members of this group occupy the area between the E margin of the county and the Bathgate Hills, but throughout this extensive tract they are in a great measure obscured by superficial deposits, and it is only in the stream courses or along the sea-shore that the relations of the rocks can be determined. There are two prominent zones, however, which are of great service in soling the geological structure of the district, viz., the Queensferry Limestone and the Houston Coal. The former is regarded as the equivalent of the well-known Burdiehouse Limestone of Midlothian. The strata underlying the Queensferry Limestone are exposed on the shore to the W of the mouth of the Almond, from which point there is a regular ascending series to the outcrop of the limestone near Queensferry. Between this latter horizon and the interbedded volcanic rocks forming the base of the Carboniferous Limestone series, there are two well-marked zones of sandstone which have been named by Dr Archibald Geikie `the Binny Sandstone group.' Separating these two zones of sandstone we find a succession of clays, shales, and shaly sandstones, along with which occurs the seam of Houston Coal. The lower of these sandstone zones has been largely quarried at Binny near Ecclesmachan, and the upper at Kingscavel E of Linlithgow. The oil-shales which have proved of such great economic value occur at various horizons in the Cementstone group of Linlithgowshire. Some of these bands are so bituminous that they yield from 30 to 40 gallons of oil to the ton of shale. The West Calder Fells and Raeburn shales are the highest in the order of succession, and underneath these come the Broxburn shales, both groups being above the Raw Camps, Burdiehouse, or Queensferry limestone. These are all rich in oils. A lower set has lately been proved to exist, which are likely to be extensively wrought, for, though they are poorer in oils than those above, they yield larger quantities of solid paraffin and ammonia.

At intervals in the series there are layers of volcanic materials, clearly indicating that volcanic activity must have been intermittent during the deposition of the Cementstone group. Below the horizon of the Queensferry Limestone and in the sandstone series overlying it, sheets of felspathic tuff are associated with the sandstone and shales. But when we ascend still further to the beds overlying the Houston Coal we find still more striking evidence of volcanic action. Indeed, from this horizon upwards to the coal-bearing series of the Carboniferous Limestone, we have a remarkable development of ancient lavas and tuffs which are regularly interbedded with the sandstones, shales, and limestones. The lavas are wholly basaltic, varying considerably in texture, and presenting the typical slaggy characters on the upper and under surfaces of the flows. The volcanic materials recall their greatest development in the Bathgate Hills, where their thickness is probably about 2000 feet, and they gradually die out when followed S towards Blackburn and N towards Borrowstounness. One of these old lavas is of such a remarkable character that it deserves special notice. It occurs at Blackburn, where it has been quarried for the soles of ovens, and where it has been locally termed `lakestone.' From the description of the microscopic characters of this rock by Dr Archibald Geikie, it would seem that the rock varies considerably in the upper and lower portions of the mass. The lower portion mainly consists of serpentine. Here and there traces of olivine occur among the serpentine in such a way as to lead to the conclusion that this mineral originally formed the chief constituent of the rock. Large pale brown crystals also occur in the serpentine, which are probably augite. A few prisms of triclinic felspar and particles of titaniferous iron or magnetite are also met with. The upper part of the rock differs considerably in character from that just described. Fresh plagioclase felspar is the chief constituent, but in addition to the felspar, augite, altered olivine, and titaniferous iron are also observable, though far less abundantly developed than in the lower portion. To this rock the name of Pikrite has been applied.

Some of the cones from which the volcanic materials were discharged are still preserved to us. One of these is now represented by the Binns Hill, which consists of a mass of fine green tuff, pierced by basalt; the latter filling up the old vent or volcanic orifice.

Owing to the enormous accumulation of volcanic materials in the Bathgate Hills, it is not easy to draw a definite boundary line for the base of the Carboniferous Limestone series. The lower portion of the contemporaneous volcanic rocks probably belongs to the Calciferous Sandstone series, while the upper portion must be grouped with the Carboniferous Limestone. In the official memoir descriptive of the geology of the district the massive limestone of Petershill is provisionally regarded as the base of the Carboniferous Limestone. To the S of the volcanic area of the Bathgate Hills, however, the boundary line is clearly defined, for in the river Almond near Blackburn, and in the Briech Water near Addiewell, the highest members of the Cementstone group pass below the Hurlet Limestone and Coal, which -are the lowest beds of the overlying series. As in other districts of central Scotland, the Carboniferous Limestone of Linlithgowshire is clearly divisible into three sub-groups-(1.) a lower limestone series; (2.) a middle coal-bearing series; (3.) an upper limestone series. In the Bathgate Hills, as already indicated, the order of succession is complicated by the presence of the bedded lavas and tuffs, but notwithstanding this fact, the limestones and even the coal seams are traceable along the range. The general inclination of the strata is towards the W, and hence we have a steady ascending series as we cross the hills to Bathgate. The massive - Petershill limestone which crops out about ½ mile E of Bathgate can be followed by a series of quarries N by Hillhouse towards Linlithgow. Though -this limestone is about 80 feet thick at Petershill, it thins out rapidly when traced in either direction from that locality. It is immediately succeeded by sandstones, shales, and ironstones, which are capped in turn by sheets of basaltic lava. The Wardlaw Limestone which is highly charged with corals, and particularly with Lithostrotion irregulare, occupies a slightly higher horizon than the main limestone just described. It is evidently a lenticular band occurring in the midst of the bedded lavas, for it is traceable for no greater distance, and is rapidly succeeded by a great development of volcanic rocks forming the most elevated ground of the Bathgate Hills. One of the most interesting points connected with these ancient lavas and tuffs is the manner in which they represent various members of the Carboniferous Limestone series which are typically developed at other localities in the county. In the neighbourhood of Kipps for example, the volcanic rocks take the place of a great part of the middle or coal-bearing group of the Carboniferous Limestone, which is well developed at Borrowstounness and Bathgate. Only the upper coal seams are to be found near the Kipps, which are rapidly succeeded by the Index Limestone which marks the base of the highest sub-group of the Carboniferous Limestone. But even to the W of the Kipps this band is overlaid by basaltic lavas, thus proving beyond doubt that the volcanic forces must have been active in that neighbourhood till near the close of the Carboniferous Limestone period. These volcanic rocks are overlaid by a set of strata in which there are two prominent beds of limestone locally termed the Dykeneuk and Craigenbuck seams. Along the shore from Blackness to -the mouth of the river Avon the triple arrangement of this division of the Carboniferous system is clearly distinguishable. The massive limestones at the base of the series are not conspicuously displayed on the shore section, but the middle or coal-bearing group is well represented between Carriden House and Borrowstounness. This coalfield is intersected by an important development of lavas and tuffs forming the N prolongation of the volcanic rocks of the Bathgate Hills. Underlying this volcanic zone we find the following seams in ascending order,-the Smithy Coal, the Easter Main Coal, the Foul Coal and Lower Ironstone, and the Red Coal. In the heart of the volcanic zone at Borrowstounness a lenticular coal seam was discovered, which is locally termed the West Main Coal, while between the horizon of the volcanic series and the Index Limestone there intervene the Upper Ironstone and the Splint Coal. The coal-bearing series of Bathgate occupies the same relative position as the Borrowstounness coalfield, that is to say, it belongs to the middle division of the Carboniferous Limestone series. In the Upper Limestone group to the W of Borrowstounness there are three important horizons, which are here given in ascend ing order, viz., the Index Limestone, the Dykeneuk Limestone, and the Craigenbuck Limestone. Upwards of 400 feet of strata intervene between the Index and Dykeneuk seams, while the latter is separated from the Craigenbuck limestone by 300 feet of strata. The highest of these, viz., the Craigenbuck seam, is on the same horizon as the Castlecary and Levenseat limestone, while the Dykeneuk band occupies the same position as he Arden, Janet Peat, Calmy or Gair limestone. It is important to observe also that the Gair limestone, to which attention was directed in a previous article (Ord. Gaz., Vol. iv., p. 460), though used provisionally as the per limit of the Carboniferous Limestone series in the Carluke district, was so regarded because the Castlecary or Levenseat limestone was either absent or had not been observed there.

Overlying the Millstone Grit which is traceable as a nearly continuous belt from the month of the river Avon S to Whitburn we find the representatives of the true Coal-measures. Both at Armadale and Torbanehill, and again at Fauldhonse, there are valuable mineral fields with seams of coal and ironstone. The strata represented in the Armadale and Torbanehill mineral fields belong to the lower section of the Coalmeasures. At these localities the following seams occur, in ascending order, the Boghead or Torbanehill Parrot Coal, the Colinburn Coal, the Main Coal, the Ball Coal, the Mill Coal, and the Upper Cannel or Shotts Gas Coal.

Various intrusive masses of basalt and diabase rocks pierce the Carboniferous strata of this county. They occur on different horizons, and some of them doubtless belong to different periods of eruption. Some of these sheets occur in the midst of the Cementstones in the E part of the county, another important mass has been intruded in the Carboniferous Limestone and Millstone Grit N of Torphichen, while still a third sheet is to be met with W of Armadale in the Coal-measures. But in addition to these, there are excellent examples of basalt dykes running in an E and W direction, and traversing alike the various subdivisions of the Carboniferous system in the county. These dykes are of a much later date however, being connected with the volcanic ejections of Tertiary times. (See Geological Survey one-inch maps, 31 and 32, and memoirs descriptive of those sheets.)

Soils and Agriculture.—The soil varies very much, but, consisting largely of decomposed volcanic rocks, is everywhere good and fertile, except in the moorish and rocky districts in the centre, S, and SW. In the lowlying portions there are 20, 000 acres of excellent carse clay land, and 20, 000 on the lower slopes and higher hollows are of harder clay on a cold subsoil, 9000 are good loam, 9000 are light gravel and sand, and the rest are either moorish, moss, or rocky. At an early period the greater part of the surface was covered with natural wood, part of which is said to remain near Kinneil House. The soil has been tilled from a very early period, - and David I., one of the most energetic of monarchs, was a great farmer in West as well as in Mid Lothian, and no doubt the operations carried on at the royal grange near Linlithgow were profitable as well as interesting. The stimulus given by David to the agriculture of the county lasted till the death of Alexander III., but, in the years that followed, ruin and devastation must have long settled down. Even so late as 1v445, during the feud between Douglas and Crichton, the Chancellor ravaged the Earl's manor of Abercorn, and drove away his valuable Flanders mares; and the agriculture remained at a very low ebb till 1723, when improvers began once more to make their appearance. One of the first signs of returning enterprise in this direction was in 1725, when a person of the name of Higgins, and his copartners at Cuffabouts, near Borrowstounness, sold some manure for 1vs. a bushel. In 1720, John, second Earl of Stair, having, notwithstanding brilliant services to his country, been sacrificed by Parliament on account of his indifference to Law's financial schemes, retired to Newliston House, near Kirkliston, and devoted himself to the improvement of his estate by planting and other improvements. He introduced new maxims of husbandry and new modes of cultivation; sowed artificial grasses, and was the first to cultivate turnips, cabbages, and carrots in the open field. Charles, first Earl of Hopetoun, imitated and even excelled the Earl of Stair; but after his death in 1742, and that of Stair in 1747, matters languished for thirty years till 1775, when both proprietors and tenant-farmers started on the course of vigorous improvement that has given such renown to the Lothians. From that time the improvement has been constant, and the farmers of West L-Lothian yield to none either for skill or enterprise.

The areas under the various crops at different dates are given in the following tables:—

Grain Crops.—Acres.

Year. Wheat. Barley or
Oats Total
1854 2850 4659 12,884 20,393
1870 2495 5001 10,542 18,038
1877 1434 5104 10,739 17,277
1882 1478 4665 10,918 17,061

Grass, Root Crops, Etc.—Acres.

Year. Hay, Grass,
and Permanent
Turnips. Potatoes.
1854 28,725 4857 1627
1870 29,788 4645 2523
1877 32,682 4442 2580
1882 34,274 3960 2280

while there are about 1000 acres on an average annually under beans, rye, vetches, fallow, etc. The farms are worked mostly on the six-shift rotation, and the average yield of wheat is 32 bushels per acre; of barley, 40 bushels; of oats, 40 bushels; turnips, from 15 to 30 tons; and potatoes, about 5 tons; but the last two are very variable. Here, as in so many of the other Scottish counties, there is a most marked decrease-nearly 50 per cent in the number of acres under wheat, and a marked increase in the number of acres under grass and permanent pastures, showing that farmers are finding the profit from stock raising greater than that from the cultivation of cereals.

The agricultural live stock in the county at different dates is shown in the following table:—

Year. Cattle. Horses. Sheep. Pigs. Total.
1854 10,984 2223 14,239 2093 29,539
1870 10,770 1961 15,664 1552 29,947
1876 10,902 2140 19,906 1858 34,806
1882 10,324 2080 16,000 2428 30,832

For dairy purposes Ayrshire cows are generally kept, while those kept for feeding are mostly crosses. The sheep are Cheviot and blackface, with B-order Leicesters and crosses; and the horses are Clydesdales. Harvest in the lower and earlier district is from 1 to 14 Aug., and in the upper parts a fortnight later. The average extent of the farms is a little over 100 acres, while 40 per cent. are under 50 acres, and only 6 per cent. over 300 acres. Of those under 50 acres about two-thirds are between 15 and 50 acres, and there are none under 5 acres. The steadings are-good and well kept. Rents are very much the same as in the county of Edinburgh. In 1v881 there were 342 farmers in the county employing 563 men, 155 women, 315 boys, and 149 girls. Industries.—The principal industries of the county are connected with its mineral wealth. The distribution of the deposits has been already indicated in the section dealing with the geology, and here the economic value simply remains to be noticed. Coal-mining, now so important, is supposed to date from the time of the Romans, and the older pits about Borrowstounness extend under the bed of the Firth. The value of the deposit was certainly well known by the 12th century, and a charter granted to William Oldbridge of Carriden near the end of that period is the first document relating to coal pits in Scotland. In the beginning of the present century the output was about 40, 000 tons, but since 1847 the growth of the trade has been rapid, and in 1882 from 39 shafts 507,204 tons were raised, while it is calculated that there are 122, 000, 000 tons still available. a peculiar coal, better known -to science, as well as to law, as ' the Torbanehill mineral, ' very rich in bitumen, and accompanied by shales from which a large percentage of oil is obtain ed, began to be worked in 1849, and led to a long and expensive lawsuit to settle the question whether it was really a coal or not. It is noticed in the article Bathgate. Oil-bearing shales have since been found to exist throughout Bathgate, Whitburn,- and Uphall parishes, and the industry has largely developed, particularly since 1860, extensive paraffin works having been established at Dalmeny, Broxburn, Winchburgh, Uphall, Bathgate, and Armadale, as well as at Addiewell, in the vale of Breich in Edinburghshire, just outside the SE border of this county. In 1882 from 16 shafts 355,700 tons of shale were drawn, which amounted to over 1/3 of the whole produced in Scotland, and more than was produced by any other county except Edinburgh. Ironstone occurs extensively in Borrowstounness, Abercorn, Torphichen, and Bathgate parishes, and in 1882 from 7 shafts 172, 957 tons were obtained. At Kinneil near Borrowstounness there are extensive blast furnaces. Including workmen and their families, probably about 1/3 of the total population of the county is dependent on the coal and shale pits and the industries connected with them. Limestone and fireclay are worked at many places, and there are large quarries of excellent sandstone at Binny, near the centre of the county. Basalt is worked near Linlithgow for clinkers for street paving, and lead ore with a considerable admixture of silver was at one time worked, but the mine has long been given up, and an effort to reopen it in 1871 proved unremunerative. Besides these and agriculture, there are leather, glue, soap, shoemaking, and agricultura1 implement works about Linlithgow; large distilleries at Kirkliston, Bathgate, Linlithgow, and Borrowstounness; a glass-work, a foundry, and a spade and waggon factory at Bathgate; paper-works at Linlithgow Loch, Linlithgow Bridge, on the Logie near Torphichen, and on the Almond near Blackburn; chemical works at several places, and a pottery and iron-foundries at Borrowstounness. There were at one time considerable saltworks, which have left the name Grangepans near Borrowstounness.

Communications, etc.—The commerce is principally centred at Borrowstounness, but the county is well provided with roads and railways. Of the former the main lines are the three great roads between Edinburgh and Glasgow, -that by Kirkliston and Linlithgow passing through the N; that by Uphall and Bathgate to the S of the centre; and that by Livingstone, Blackburn, and Whitburn through the S. Other important lines are the road from Edinburgh to Linlithgow by Queensferry, the road from Lanark to Linlithgow by Whitburn and Armadale, and the road from Linlithgow to Borrowstounness. There are also a large number of district roads. The North British railway from Edinburgh to Polmont enters the county 15/8 mile W of Ratho station, and passes first NW and then W by Winchburgh and Linlithgow for 9¾ miles, entering Stirlingshire 1½ mile W of Linlithgow station. At Ratho a branch quits this line and passes N by Kirkliston and Dalmeny to South Queensferry; there is at present no great traffic over it, but by and by this will be changed, as it is the line that is to lead to the new Forth Bridge. Half a mile W of Ratho another branch passes off W by S along the upper part of the county, 10 miles to Bathgate. From this, as a centre, one line passes NW by the valley of the Logie to the line between Slamannan and Borrowstounness, at Blackston station, the distance to the Almond being 4 miles; a second line passes westward direct to Airdrie, the length of two portions within the county being 6 miles; and a third line passes S and SW towards Wishaw, the distance within the county being 8 miles. From this a connecting branch crosses the- Breich to Addiewell, where it joins the Caledonian section between Edinburgh and Glasgow vià Cleland. Mineral loops pass off from several of the lines. The line between Slamannan and Borrowstounness passes through the NW corner of the county for 3½ miles. The Union Canal connecting Edinburgh with the Forth and Clyde Canal enters the county on the W by a lofty aqueduct over the Avon, 11/4 mile SW of Linlithgow Bridge, and, passing NW to near Linlithgow, follows the line of the first-mentioned railway to Niddry, ¾ mile SE of Winchburgh, whence it winds first to the SW, and then easterly, till it quits the county at the S of Clifton Hall grounds (Edinburgh) by a lofty aqueduct over the Almond, after a course of 13½ miles.

The royal burghs are Linlithgow and South Queensferry, while Armadale, Bathgate, and Borrowstounness (including Grangepans) are police burghs, and Broxburn and Fauldhouse (including Crofthead) are large enough to be denominated towns. The villages are East Benhar, Blackburn, Kinneil, Kirkliston, part of Linlithgow Bridge, which is shared with Stirlingshire; Longridge, Newtown, Torphichen, Uphall (including Upper Uphall), and Whitburn. Smaller villages and hamlets are Abercorn, Blackness, Bridgeness, Craigie, Cuffabouts, Dalmeny, Drumcross, Durhamtown, Ecclesmachan, Gateside, Muirhouses, Riccarton, Philpstoun, and Winchburgh. According to Miscellaneous Statistics of the United Kingdom (1879) 75, 785 acres, with a total gross estimated rental of £248, 594, were divided among 1536 landowners, one holding 11,870 acres (rental £20, 618), one 5680 (£11, 319), six together 17,358 (£42, 514), nine 12,006 (£16, 576), nineteen 13,012 (£41,095), fifty-seven 12,583 (£53, 283), etc. The principal seats, most of which are separately noticed, are Almondell, Avontoun, Balbardie House, Ballencrieff House, Bangour, Belsyde, Binns, Blackburn House, Boghead House, Bonhard House, Bonsyde, Bridge House, Bridgecastle, Carlowrie Castle, Carriden House, Champfleurie House, Clarendon House, Craigiehall, Craigton House, Dalmeny Park and Barnbougle Castle, Dechmont House, Dundas Castle, Foxhall, Grange House, Hopetoun House, Houston House, Kinneil House, Kirkhill House, Lochcote Castle, Newliston, Philpstoun House, Polkemmet, Preston House, Torbanehill House, Wallhouse, and Westwood. The civil county consists of the 12 entire quoad civilis parishes of Abercorn, Bathgate, Borrowstounness, Carriden, Dalmeny, Ecclesmachan, Linlithgow, Livingston, Queensferry, Torphichen, Uphall, and Whitburn, and portions of Cramond and Kirkliston, both of which it shares with Edinburghshire. The quoad sacra parish of Fauldhouse is also included, and there is a mission station at Armadale. These are all ecclesiastically in the presbytery of Linlithgow and the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. Besides the 15 churches in connection with the Established Church, there are 11 places of worship connected with the Free Church, 4 in connection with the United Presbyterian Church, 1 Congregational church, 1 Evangelical Union church, 1 Wesleyan Methodist church, 2 Episcopal churches and a mission station, and 4 Roman Catholic churches. In the year ending Sept. 1882 there were 42 schools (33 public), which, with accommodation for 8347 children, had 8375 on the rolls, and an average attendance of 6375. Their staff consisted of 81 certificated, 11 assistant, and 50 pupil teachers.

Linlithgowshire, with a constituency of 1333 in 188283, returns one member to serve in Parliament, but Linlithgow, as one of the Falkirk burghs, has a share of a second, and Queensferry, as one of the Stirling burghs, of a third. The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant and 16 deputy-lieutenants, besides justices of the peace. lt is under the same sheriff-principal as Midlothian, but has a resident sheriff-substitute. Ordinary courts are held at Linlithgow every Tuesday and Friday during session, and sheriff small debt courts every Friday. There is a small debt circuit court at Bathgate for the parishes of Bathgate, Livingston, Uphall, Torphichen, and Whitburn on the third Wednesday of January, April, July, and October. Quarter sessions are held on the first Tuesday of March, May, and August, and on the last Tuesday of October; and justice of peace courts when required. There is a police force of 35 men (one to each 1234 of the population) under a chief constable, with a salary of £125 a year. In 1881 the number of persons tried at the instance of the police was 1017; convicted, 917; committed for trial, 48; not dealt with, 394. The number of registered poor during the twelvemonth 1882-83 was 808, and of casual poor 1300; whilst the expenditure for poor-law purposes amounted in the same period to £9138. All the parishes are assessed, and Abercorn, Bathgate, Borrowstounness, Carriden, Kirkliston, Linlithgow, and Whitburn, with the parish of Muiravonside in Stirlingshire, form Linlithgow Poor-Law Combination, with a poorhouse at Linlithgow. The proportion of illegitimate births averages about 8 per cent., and the average annual death-rate is 19 per-thousand. Valuation (1647) £5073, (1815) £97, 597, (1849) £122, 242, (1866) £163, 593, (1876) £186, 531, (1884) £216,940, all exclusive of railways and canals, which in the latter year were valued at £36, 395. Population of registration county, which takes in part of Kirkliston from Edinburgh, and gives off part of Cramond to the same county (1831) 23, 760, (1841) 27,466, (1 851) 30, 590, (1861) 39,045, (1871) 41, 379, (1881) 44,005; of civil county (1801) l7,844, (1811) 19, 451, (1821) 22, 685, (1831) 23,291, (1841) 26, 872, (1851) 30,135, (1861) 38, 645, (1871) 40,965, (1881) 43, 510, of whom 22,746 were males, and 20,764 females. The occupations of these in the registration county are shown in the following table:-

Occupations. Males. Females. Total.
Professional,. . . . . 835 258 1,093
Domestic servants, . . 241 1,188 1,429
Commercial,. . . . . . 1,011 31 1,042
Agriculture and fishing,. 1,710 639 2,349
Industrial, . . . . . 10,253 1,183 11,436
No stated occupation, . 8,929 17,727 26,656

Of the 1710 males and 639 females in the fourth class, 1637 males and 637 females were connected with farming; of those engaged in industrial occupations, 4635 men and 214 women were engaged in industries connected with mineral substances; and in the last class there were 8563 boys and 8704 girls under fifteen years of age. It is a curious and very inexplicable circumstance that Linlithgow is the only county in Scotland where the males are in excess of the females, and this has been the case at every census since 1841. In 1881 the number of persons to each square mile was 363, the county thus ranking fifth in the order of density of population. In the same year the number of families was 8911, occupying 8532 houses with 22,293 rooms.

A monastery is said to have existed at Abercorn as early as 675, but it was abandoned ten years after, and on the rise of the Roman Church the county became part of the diocese of Lindisfarne, and was subsequently comprehended in that of St Andrews. The old archdeaconry had probably the same limits as the modern presbytery, including not only the whole county itself, except a part of Cramond, but several parishes in Stirlingshire and in Edinburghshire. The Bishop of St Andrews had a regality jurisdiction over all the lands in the see lying to the S of the Forth, and his court sat at Kirkliston. During the time of the short-lived Protestant bishopric of Edinburgh, Linlithgowshire lay within the limits of that see. Though the Knights of St John had their seat at Torphichen-which thus passed into the hands of the present proprietors, the first Lord Torphichen being the last preceptor, and Lord St John of Jerusalem in Scotland-there were anciently in the county but few religious houses, two monasteries and a hospitium at Linlithgow and a Carmelite convent near Queensferry being the chief. The brass seal of the presbytery of Linlithgow dates from 1583, and has the inscription Sigillum presbyterii Linlithcu round the edge while on the face is Verbum Dei nostri stabit in œternum. At the dawn of the historic period we find the county within the limits usually given to the Otaleni or Otadeni or Gadeni; but when the district was, in A.D.81, brought by Agricola within the limits of the Roman power, the tribe that inhabited it are called the Damnonii, vand from Carriden the great general himself set sail to the opposite shore to attack the Horestii. He probably began his chain of forts at the same place. When Antonine's Wall was constructed in 139, almost the whole of the shire fell within the limits of Roman government, for the wall passed through the extreme NW corner of the county, beginning at the E corner of Carriden grounds and running westward for 5 miles by Kinneil House to the bridge near Inveravon, where it crossed the Avon and passed into Stirlingshire. From the Roman station at Cramond a road passed along near the coast to the end of the Roman wall at Carriden. Traces of a reputed Roman camp exist to the E of Abercorn; Blackness is said to have been a Roman port; and at Bridgeness there was found in 1868 one of the finest legionary tablets in the country. A facsimile of it has been placed on the spot, but the stone itself is in the Antiquarian Society's Museum at Edinburgh. It is 9 feet long, 2 feet 11 inches wide, and 9 inches thick. On one side of a central inscription a Roman soldier is sculptured, riding triumphantly over conquered Britons; on the other is the representation of a sacrificial ceremony. The inscription itself records that the Augustan Legion, after making 4652 paces of the wall, set up and dedicated the stone to the Emperor Cesar Titus Antoninus. It was at Kinneil that St Serf stood and threw his staff across the Firth, in order to find out where he was to settle (see Culross); and, according to Dr Skene, the twelfth of the great Arthurian battles was fought at Bowden Hill in 516. Edwin of Northumbria in 617 extended his dominion over all the Lothians, and afterwards Kenneth Macalpine led the Scots to the conquest of these provinces, and they finally became incorporated with the Scottish kingdom about 1020. Traces of cairns or tumuli of these and earlier periods exist on the Lochcote Hills, on the Forth near Barnbougle, near Kirkliston, and on the S bank of the Almond near Livingston; and in the old bed of Lochcote there are the remains of a crannoge. There are standing-stones near Abercorn, near Bathgate, and near Torphichen, while there are traces of hill forts at Cocklerue, Bowden Hill, Cairn-naple, and Binns. The county was probably a sheriffdom in the time of David I., and certainly was so in the reign of Malcolm IV., and thus it remained down to the time of Robert Bruce, though after William the Lyon's reign the rule of the sheriffs was nominal rather than real. By Robert I. the district was put under a constable, whose successors held office till the reign of James III., when we find it again under a sheriff. In 1600 the latter office was granted to James Hamilton, the eldest son of Claude, Lord Paisley, and to his heirs, and was again, soon after the Restoration, given hereditarily to John Hope of Hopetoun, the ancestor of the Earls of Hopetoun. At the abolition of the hereditary jurisdictions in 1747, the then earl claimed £10, 500 as compensation for the sheriffdom of Linlithgow, the sheriffwick of Bathgate, the regality of St Andrews at Kirkliston, the bailiery of Crawfordmuir, and the regality of Kirkheugh, and obtained £4569. No county in the whole of Scotland had probably so many independent petty jurisdictions of baronies, regalities, and bailieries. Kirkliston and other lands were a regality, with an attached bailiery; Bathgate was long a barony, and afterwards became a separate sheriffwick; Torphichen was a regality first of the Knights of St John, and next of the Lords Torphichen. Other regalities were Kinneil, under the Duke of Hamilton; Philpstoun, under the monks of Culross, and afterwards under the Earls of Stair; and Brighouse and Ogleface, under the Earl of Linlithgow. Linlithgow was an hereditary royal bailiery, belonging, like the last-named regality, to the Linlithgow family, while Abercorn, Barnbougle, Caribber, Dalmeny, Livingston, and Strathbrock had baronial jurisdictions. The principal antiquities dating from medieval times are Dalmeny church, the peel of Linlithgow, the castles of Abercorn, Barnbougle, Blackness, Bridgehouse, Dundas, Mannerston, and Niddry, the towers of Binny, Ochiltree, Midhope, and Torphichen, and the vestiges of a castle that afforded a retreat to Walter, Steward of Scotland, in a morass near Bathgate. Part of Dundas Castle is supposed to have stood since the beginning of the 11th century, and the family was the oldest in the county.

See also Sir Robert Sibbald's History he Sheriffdoms of Linlithgow and Stirlingshire (Edinb. 1v710); J. Trotter's General View of the Agriculture of West Lothian (Edinb. 1794; 2d ed., 1810); John P. Eood,s Ancient and Modern State of the Parish of Cramond (Edinb. l794); John Penney's Historical Account of Linlithgowshire (Edinb. 1831); Mr Farrall's paper `On the Agriculture of Edinburghshire and Linlith-gowshire,' in Trans. Highl. and Ag. Soc. (1877); John Small's Castles and Mansions of the Lothians (2 vols., Edinb. 1883); and G. Waldie's Walks along the Northern Roman Wall (Linlithgow, 1883).

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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