Just a few miles to the west of the capital is Strathbroch near Linlithgow where Freskin the Flemish, ancestor of the Murrays, was first granted lands by David I. Nearby is Linlithgow itself. Although a busy administrative and shopping centre, the town retains many features from its regal and historic past and Linlithgow Palace was the favourite home of Scottish royalty.
Next, travel north to Stirling and visit the equally impressive Stirling Castle, a retreat favoured by the Stuart monarchs and the childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots. North of the castle is the site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge where Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell raised an army of low ranking spearmen with Scottish hero William Wallace in 1297. They faced the superior English forces across a wooden bridge but they refused to surrender or flee. The ensuing battle was unexpectedly won by the Scots but Moray was mortally wounded and died two months later.
A mile or so southwest of Stirling lies the very poignant site of the Battle of Bannockburn. Robert the Bruce declared himself King of Scotland in 1306 and began a long and arduous campaign to secure his title, finally achieving success at this battle. The son of Sir Andrew Moray supported Bruce and married Christina, one of Bruce's sisters.