Lothian (Scots: Wast Lowden, Scottish Gaelic: Lodainn an Iar) is
one of the 32 council areas of Scotland, and one of its historic
counties. The county, which was also known as Linlithgowshire, was
bounded by the Avon to the west and the Almond to the east. The modern
council area occupies a smaller area, with areas in the west
transferred to Falkirk and areas in the east transferred to Edinburgh
following local government reforms in the late 20th century. It did
however gain areas from Midlothian.
Lothian lies on the southern shore of the
Firth of Forth
Firth of Forth and is
predominantly rural, though there were extensive coal, iron, and shale
oil mining operations in the 18th and 19th centuries, which created
distinctive red spoil heaps (locally known as "bings") throughout the
council area. The old county town was the royal burgh of Linlithgow,
but the largest town (and the second largest town in
Edinburgh) is now Livingston.
3 Government and politics
3.3 Parliamentary representation
3.4 Council political composition
4 Places of interest
5 Famous residents
6 See also
8 External links
The council area borders, in a clockwise direction, the council areas
of Edinburgh, the Scottish Borders, North and South Lanarkshire, and
Falkirk. The county bordered Midlothian, Edinburgh, Lanarkshire, and
Stirlingshire. Its eastern border with
Midlothian was formed by the
Briech Water, from its source until it reached the Almond, and it then
followed the Almond to the Forth (except by Livingston, where
Midlothian intruded about a mile past the Almond to include the
hamlets of Howden, Craigshill, and Pumpherston). The southern border
was mostly arbitrary, while the western border was formed first by the
Drumtassie Burn and then by the Avon. It had an area of 120 sq. miles
(310 km2), making it the third smallest of Scotland's 33 counties and
smaller than the modern council area. Significant towns not included
in the council area are the coastal burghs of
Bo'ness and Queensferry
and the town of Kirkliston.
Geologically, most of the area is underlaid by Carboniferous
sedimentary rocks running in strips from north to south. The eastern
and southern rocks are the oldest and least useful. Further west is a
large field of shale oil, then sedimentary and basalt rocks supplying
silica sand, and then coal.
The area rises from lowlands in the north to the Pentland Hills in the
southeast, while the southwest is moorland. Two thirds of the land is
agricultural, while a tenth is urban. Significant watercourses include
the Almond and the Union Canal, while the main bodies of water are
Linlithgow Loch and the various reservoirs in the Pentlands.
Linlithgow town and palace.
Lothian was extensively settled in prehistoric times, and several
ancient burial sites have been uncovered, such as at Cairnpapple Hill.
There are remains of hillforts on Cockleroy, Peace Knowe, Bowden,
Cairnpapple, and Binns Hills. The area was anciently inhabited by
Britons of the tribe known as the
Votadini or Gododdin. By 83 AD,
Scotland had been conquered by Romans, who built a road from
their fort at
Cramond to the eastern end of the Antonine Wall, as well
as forts in West
Lothian (of which
Castle Greg is a known example).
The Romans withdrew roughly two centuries later, and the area was left
to the Britons until the arrival of Anglo-Saxons in the fifth and
sixth centuries, who brought
Lothian under the rule of the Kingdom of
Northumbria. In later centuries the region was regularly overrun by
Gaelic-speaking Scots, and it became permanently part of the Kingdom
Scotland in the 11th century.
Scotland was split into sheriffdoms, what would later become counties,
in the reign of David I. The first known reference to a sheriff of
Linlithgow occurs in a charter dating from the reign of his successor
Malcolm IV. For a time West
Lothian became a constabulary, but it
seems to have been made a sheriffdom again during the reign of James
In pre-industrial times West
Lothian was almost entirely agricultural.
In the way of heavy industry there was a silver mine at Cairnpapple, a
cotton mill at Blackburn, paper mills at Linlithgow, and shallow coal
Bathgate and Whitburn. The county was radically changed
by the Industrial Revolution, with the opening of deep-pit iron, coal,
and shale oil mines, as well as foundries and brickworks. Many of the
houses built for the expanding population were shoddy, necessitating
the building of thousands of council houses in the latter part of the
20th century, especially at Livingston, which had historically been a
minor village. The bings produced by the mining industry, 19 of which
still stand in West Lothian, were at first considered blights, but now
are thought of as monuments to Scotland's industrial past, and a
representation of one appears on the council's coat of arms. Heavy
industry declined after the Second World War, and the last shale oil
mine closed in 1962.
Government and politics
1868 map of Linlithgowshire showing parishes.
The county of West
Lothian or of
Linlithgow contained six burghs:
Armadale, Bathgate, Bo'ness, Linlithgow, Queensferry, and Whitburn.
Areas outside the burghs were administered as districts, of which
there were also six: Borrowstounness, Linlithgow, Queensferry,
Torphichen & Bathgate, Uphall, and Whitburn & Livingston.
The county was also split into twelve parishes; these were not used
for administrative purposes after 1929.
Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973
Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 abolished the counties,
burghs, and districts, instead creating a system of regions and
Lothian was made a district of
Lothian region but lost
the burgh of
Bo'ness and the district of
Bo'ness to Falkirk district
of Central Region, the burgh of Queensferry and the district of
Kirkliston and part of Winchburgh to
Edinburgh district of Lothian
Region. It gained East Calder and West Calder districts from
Midlothian. The two-tier system was abolished by the Local Government
etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, and the district of West
Lothian was made a
unitary council area.
Lothian question, referring to whether Scottish, Welsh, and
Northern Irish MPs should be allowed to vote on English laws, is so
named because it was supposedly first raised by
Tam Dalyell while he
was MP for West Lothian.
Council political composition
Scottish National Party
Places of interest
Beecraigs Country Park
Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots
Polkemmet Country Park
See also the pages of the West
Lothian Archaeological Trust
Susan Boyle, from Blackburn, a singer who achieved fame on the TV
series Britain's Got Talent
Ian Colquhoun, from Livingston, author and actor
Dario Franchitti, from Whitburn, four-time Indy Car series champion,
and three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500
Leon Jackson, from Whitburn, winner of The X Factor in 2007
James the Fifth, born at
Linlithgow Palace, King of Scots
Mary, born at
Linlithgow Palace, Queen of Scots
Paul di Resta, from Uphall, DTM race driver for Mercedes-Benz, and the
cousin of Dario Franchitti
Alex Salmond, from Linlithgow, politician and former First Minister of
David Tennant, from Bathgate, actor
Sir Charles Wyville Thompson, from Linlithgow, biologist
List of places in West Lothian
^ "Singing Talent of
Susan Boyle Stuns Simon Cowell, Times of London
Archived March 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
^ Leigh Holmwood (14 April 2009). "Britain's got talent hits high
note,'". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to West Lothian.
Penney, John (1832). A Topographical and Historical Account of
Linlithgowshire. Edinburgh: Stevenson.
"West Lothian's Heritage". West
"West Lothian". Gazetteer for Scotland.
West Lothian Council
West Lothian Council official government website
Lothian at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
Lothian Archaeology Group
Lothian Family History Society
River Kids - West Lothian's Children's Charity
Former local government counties of Scotland
Subdivisions created by the
Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889
Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889 and
abolished by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973
Ross and Cromarty
Subdivisions abolished by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889