1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Linlithgowshire

LINLITHGOWSHIRE, or West Lothian, a south-eastern county of Scotland, bounded N. by the Firth of Forth, E. and S.E. by Edinburghshire, S.W. by Lanarkshire and N.W. by Stirlingshire. It has an area of 76,861 acres, or 120 sq. m., and a coast line of 17 m. The surface rises very gradually from the Firth to the hilly district in the south. A few miles from the Forth a valley stretches from east to west. Between the county town and Bathgate are several hills, the chief being Knock (1017 ft.), Cairnpapple, or Cairnnaple (1000), Cocklerue (said to be a corruption of Cuckold-le-Roi, 912), Riccarton Hills (832) terminating eastwards in Binny Craig, a striking eminence similar to those of Stirling and Edinburgh, Torphichen Hills (777) and Bowden (749). In the coast district a few bold rocks are found, such as Dalmeny, Dundas (well wooded and with a precipitous front), the Binns and a rounded eminence of 559 ft. named Glower-o’er-’em or Bonnytoun, bearing on its summit a monument to General Adrian Hope, who fell in the Indian Mutiny. The river Almond, rising in Lanarkshire and pursuing a north-easterly direction, enters the Firth at Cramond after a course of 24 m., during a great part of which it forms the boundary between West and Mid Lothian. Its right-hand tributary, Breich Water, constitutes another portion of the line dividing the same counties. The Avon, rising in the detached portion of Dumbartonshire, flows eastwards across south Stirlingshire and then, following in the main a northerly direction, passes the county town on the west and reaches the Firth about midway between Grangemouth and Bo’ness, having served as the boundary of Stirlingshire, during rather more than the latter half of its course. The only loch is Linlithgow Lake (102 acres), immediately adjoining the county town on the north, a favourite resort of curlers and skaters. It is 10 ft. deep at the east end and 48 ft. at the west. Eels, perch and braise (a species of roach) are abundant.

Geology.—The rocks of Linlithgowshire belong almost without exception to the Carboniferous system. At the base is the Calciferous Sandstone series, most of which lies between the Bathgate Hills and the eastern boundary of the county. In this series are the Queensferry limestone, the equivalent of the Burdiehouse limestone of Edinburgh, and the Binny sandstone group with shales and clays and the Houston coal bed. At more than one horizon in this series oil shales are found. The Bathgate Hills are formed of basaltic lavas and tuffs—an interbedded volcanic group possibly 2000 ft. thick in the Calciferous Sandstone and Carboniferous Limestone series. A peculiar serpentinous variety of the prevailing rock is quarried at Blackburn for oven floors; it is known as “lakestone.” Binns Hill is the site of one of the volcanic cones of the period. The Carboniferous Limestone series consists of an upper and lower limestone group—including the Petershill, Index, Dykeneuk and Craigenbuck limestones—and a middle group of shales, ironstones and coals; the Smithy, Easter Main, Foul, Red and Splint coals belong to this horizon. Above the Carboniferous Limestone the Millstone grit series crops in a belt which may be traced from the mouth of the Avon southwards to Whitburn. This is followed by the true coal-measures with the Boghead or Torbanehill coal, the Colinburn, Main, Ball, Mill and Upper Cannel or Shotts gas coals of Armadale, Torbanehill and Fauldhouse.

Climate and Agriculture.—The average rainfall for the year is 29.9 in., and the average temperature 47.5° F. (January 38° F.; July 59.5° F.). More than three-fourths of the county, the agriculture of which is highly developed, is under cultivation. The best land is found along the coast, as at Carriden and Dalmeny. The farming is mostly arable, permanent pasture being practically stationary (at about 22,000 acres). Oats is the principal grain crop, but barley and wheat are also cultivated. Farms between 100 and 300 acres are the most common. Turnips and potatoes are the leading green crops. Much land has been reclaimed; the parish of Livingston, for example, which in the beginning of the 18th century was covered with heath and juniper, is now under rotation. In Torphichen and Bathgate, however, patches of peat moss and swamp occur, and in the south there are extensive moors at Fauldhouse and Polkemmet. Live stock does not count for so much in West Lothian as in other Scottish counties, though a considerable number of cattle are fattened and dairy farming is followed successfully, the fresh butter and milk finding a market in Edinburgh. There is some sheep-farming, and horses and pigs are reared. The wooded land occurs principally in the parks and “policies” surrounding the many noblemen’s mansions and private estates.

Other Industries.—The shale-oil trade flourishes at Bathgate, Broxburn, Armadale, Uphall, Winchburgh, Philpstoun and Dalmeny. There are important iron-works with blast furnaces at Bo’ness, Kinneil, Whitburn and Bathgate, and coal is also largely mined at these places. Coal-mining is supposed to have been followed since Roman times, and the earliest document extant regarding coalpits in Scotland is a charter granted about the end of the 12th century to William Oldbridge of Carriden. Fire-clay is extensively worked in connexion with the coal, and ironstone employs many hands. Limestone, freestone and whinstone are all quarried. Binny freestone was used for the Royal Institution and the National Gallery in Edinburgh, and many important buildings in Glasgow. Some fishing is carried on from Queensferry, and Bo’ness is the principal port.

Communications.—The North British Railway Company’s line from Edinburgh to Glasgow runs across the north of the county, it controls the approaches to the Forth Bridge, and serves the rich mineral district around Airdrie and Coatbridge in Lanarkshire via Bathgate. The Caledonian Railway Company’s line from Glasgow to Edinburgh touches the extreme south of the shire. The Union Canal, constructed in 1818–1822 to connect Edinburgh with the Forth and Clyde Canal near Camelon in Stirlingshire, crosses the county, roughly following the N.B.R. line to Falkirk. The Union Canal, which is 31 m. long and belongs to the North British railway, is carried across the Almond and Avon on aqueducts designed by Thomas Telford, and near Falkirk is conveyed through a tunnel 2100 ft. long.

Population and Administration.—In 1891 the population amounted to 52,808, and in 1901 to 65,708, showing an increase of 24.43% in the decennial period, the highest of any Scottish county for that decade, and a density of 547 persons to the sq. m. In 1901 five persons spoke Gaelic only, and 575 Gaelic and English. The chief towns, with populations in 1901, are Bathgate (7549), Borrowstounness (9306), Broxburn (7099) and Linlithgow (4279). The shire returns one member to parliament. Linlithgowshire is part of the sheriffdom of the Lothians and Peebles, and a resident sheriff-substitute sits at Linlithgow and Bathgate. The county is under school-board jurisdiction, and there are academies at Linlithgow, Bathgate and Bo’ness. The local authorities entrust the bulk of the “residue” grant to the County Secondary Education Committee, which subsidizes elementary technical classes (cookery, laundry and dairy) and science and art and technological classes, including their equipment.

History.—Traces of the Pictish inhabitants still exist. Near Inveravon is an accumulation of shells—mostly oysters, which have long ceased to be found so far up the Forth—considered by geologists to be a natural bed, but pronounced by antiquaries to be a kitchen midden. Stone cists have been discovered at Carlowrie, Dalmeny, Newliston and elsewhere; on Cairnnaple is a circular structure of remote but unknown date; and at Kipps is a cromlech that was once surrounded by stones. The wall of Antoninus lies for several miles in the shire. The discovery of a fine legionary tablet at Bridgeness in 1868 is held by some to be conclusive evidence that the great rampart terminated at that point and not at Carriden. Roman camps can be distinguished at several spots. On the hill of Bowden is an earthwork, which J. Stuart Glennie and others connect with the struggle of the ancient Britons against the Saxons of Northumbria. The historical associations of the county mainly cluster round the town of Linlithgow (q.v.). Kingscavil (pop. 629) disputes with Stonehouse in Lanarkshire the honour of being the birthplace of Patrick Hamilton, the martyr (1504–1528).

See Sir R. Sibbald, History of the Sheriffdoms of Linlithgow and Stirlingshire (Edinburgh, 1710); G. Waldie, Walks along the Northern Roman Wall (Linlithgow, 1883); R. J. H. Cunningham, Geology of the Lothians (Edinburgh, 1838).