St. Michael's Parish Church is one of the largest burgh churches in the Church of Scotland. King David I of Scotland granted a charter for the establishment of the church in 1138. The church was built on the site of an older church and was consecrated in 1242. Following a fire in 1424, most of the present building dates from the mid-15th century, with extensive restorations in the 19th century. Parts of the Church of St Michael were brought into use as they were completed, and the church was completed in 1540.
Built immediately to the south of Linlithgow Palace, the church was much favoured as a place of worship by Scottish Kings and Queens. Mary, Queen of Scots, was born in Linlithgow Palace on 8 December 1542 and was baptised in St Michael’s Church.
In 1559, at an early stage of the Scottish Reformation, the Protestant Lords of the Congregation destroyed the statues adorning the exterior and interior of the church as signs of 'popishness', and defaced the statue of St Michael which formed part of the structure.
Following the Reformation, the interior of the church was reordered. Some traces of pre-Reformation artefacts can still be detected. In 1646, Oliver Cromwell's troops stabled their horses within the nave. Following the departure of the troops, considerable restoration was required.
By the early 19th century the church was in a very poor physical condition. Although repairs were made, many of the historic features of the church were destroyed, the interior walls were whitewashed, a plaster ceiling replaced a fine 16th-century one and in 1821 the stone Crown Tower (a crown steeple similar to that of St Giles' Cathedral) had to be dismantled.
While other repairs were completed and the church was rededicated in 1896, the tower was too weakened for restoration of the original crown steeple.
By the late 19th century tastes had changed radically, with the installation of the church's first post-Reformation stained glass windows. In 1964, an aluminium crown was installed.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick.