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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 06:57 GMT
Hunt for ancient fort begins
Linlithgow Palace (Pic from Marie Stuart Society)
The dig will take place in the grounds at Linlithgow
Archaeologists are to begin excavations which it is hoped will uncover a 700-year-old fortress built by an English king to keep control of Scotland against William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.

Historic Scotland teams will start work in the grounds of Linlithgow Palace on Monday.

They are hoping to find the remains of the fort built by Edward I in 1302 and destroyed by Robert the Bruce after the battle of Bannockburn.

Linlithgow Palace (Pic from Marie Stuart Society)
The area has a rich history

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 said it was hoped that the dig in the park surrounding the palace would uncover artefacts and timber fortifications built by the English monarch.

He said: "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 himself 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.

Linlithgow Palace (Pic from Marie Stuart Society)
The initial dig will last until March

Some 1,000 square metres of land will scoured in an effort to find evidence of the fort.

The area is believed to have been inhabited since before Roman times, and the site of the 15th century palace existed as a manor from the 12th century.

Mr Bridgeland said: "We could turn up artefacts dating from Roman times to evidence of a glue factory which we know was demolished in the 19th century."

He added: "The first aim of the excavation is to identify the scope of what is underneath the ground."

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

BBC Scotland's Kate Fawcett
"Historic Scotland is eager to discover if the land holds any secrets"
See also:

14 Sep 00 | Scotland
Skara Brae usurped as oldest site
19 May 00 | Europe
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14 Mar 01 | Scotland
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