News of Linlithgow sculptures now set in stone

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Linlithgow residents can fully expect to have two centuries old-symbols of the town immortalised amidst a community led-plan for new statues.

Legends abound about the celebrated Black Bitch, the famed canine who helps to give the Royal and Ancient Burgh of Linlithgow crest its own particular character.

However, there are few three-dimensional representations of the legendary beast – and the same can be said of another very different heraldic symbol of the town – St Michael the Archangel.

Yet that is all set to change after Burgh Beautiful Linlithgow decided to take action due to public demand.

And young and old alike will be involved in that process every step of the way.

The group’s convener Ron Smith said: “Following the successful installation of the sculpture of Dudley, the cat, at the canal basin, members of the public got in touch through our Facebook page and asked about the possibility of a Black Bitch statute. Others were keen on a sculpture of St Michael.

“We are delighted that a good proportion of the funding has already been pledged from the ring-fenced public art fund created by the Linlithgow Town Centre BID and the Linlithgow & Linlithgow Bridge Town Management Group.

“We have applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Creative Scotland and other sources for the remainder of the funding and we hope to run a crowdfunding campaign later in the year.”

The first consultation has been with local historian Bruce Jamieson, who said: “Although the Black Bitch motif is already present in various locations throughout the town, a life-size sculpture would certainly be a popular addition.

“It’s been part of town history since at least 1490 when it was engraved on the bell called Alma Maria in St Michael’s Church.

“This bell is the same one that rang out to announce defeat at Flodden and more joyously for the birth of Mary Stewart in 1542. It still rings out every Sunday and for every Memorial Service.”

The location for the Black Bitch sculpture will lie opposite St Peter’s Church. A recently landscaped area of Low Port has been earmarked for the St Michael statue.

Public consultation events are planned for March and May and it is hoped that as many local schoolchildren as possible will be able to find out about the town’s civic insignia and show how they would like the sculptures to look.