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CHAPTER X

MOTTE-CASTLES IN SCOTLAND

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The Scottish historians of the 19th century have amply recognised the Anglo-Norman occupation of Scotland, which took place in the rith and 12th centuries, ever since its extent and importance were demonstrated by Chalmers in his Caledonia. Occupation is not too strong a word to use, although it was an occupation about which history is strangely silent, and which

to have provoked little resistance except in the Keltic parts of the country. But it meant the transformation of Scotland from a tribal Keltic kingdom into an organised feudal state, and in the accomplishment of this transformation the greater part of the best lands in Scotland passed into the hands of English refugees or Norman and Flemish adventurers.

The movement began in the days of Malcolm Canmore, when his English queen, the sainted Margaret, undoubtedly favoured the reception of English refugees of noble birth, some of whom were her own relations.1 Very soon, the English refugees were followed by Norman refugees, who had either fallen under the displeasure of the king of England, like the Mont

1 Malcolm Canmore himself had passed nearly fourteen years in England. Fordun, iv., 45.

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gomeries, or were the cadets of some Norman family, wishful to carve out fresh fortunes for themselves, like the Fitz Alans, the ancestors of the Stuarts. The immigration continued during the reign of the sons of Margaret, but seems to have reached its culminating point under David I. (1124-1153).

David, as Burton remarks, had lived for sixteen years as an affluent Anglo-Norman noble, before his accession to the Scottish crown, being Earl of Huntingdon in right of his wife, the daughter of Simon de Senlis, and granddaughter, through her mother, of Earl Waltheof. David's tastes and sympathies were Norman, but it was not taste alone which impelled him to build up in Scotland a monarchy of the Anglo-Norman feudal type. He had a distinct policy to accomplish; he wished to do for Scotland what Edward I. sought to do for the whole island, to unite its various nationalities under one government, and he saw that men of the Anglo-Norman type would be the best instruments of this policy. It mattered little to him from what nation he chose his followers, if they were men who accepted his ideas. Norman, English, Flemish, or Norse adventurers were all received at his court, and endowed with lands in Scotland, if they were men suitable for working the system which he knew to be the only one available for the accomplishment of his policy. And that system was the feudal system. He saw that feudalism meant a higher state of civilisation than the tribalism of Keltic Scotland, and that only by the complete organisation of feudalism could he

carry out the unification of Scotland, and the 1 Burton remarks : “To the Lowland Scot, as well as to the Saxon, the Norman was what a clever man, highly educated and trained in the great world of politics, is to the same man who has spent his days in a village." History of Scotland, i., 353.

subjugation of the wild Keltic tribes of the north and

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The policy was successful, though it was not completely carried out until Alexander III. purchased the kingdom of the Isles from the King of Norway in 1 266. The sons of David, Malcolm IV., and William the Lion were strong men who doughtily continued the subjugation of the Keltic parts of Scotland, and distributed the lands of the conquered among their Norman or Normanised followers. The struggle was one ; again and again did the North rebel against the yoke of the House of Malcolm. In Moray the Keltic inhabitants were actually driven out by Malcolm IV., and the country colonised by

by Normans Flemings. The same Malcolm led no less than three expeditions against Galloway, where in spite of extensive Norse settlements on the coast, the mass of the inhabitants appear to have been Keltic.3

We know very little about the details of this remarkable revolution, because Scotland had no voice in the

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| Dr Round has brought to light the significant fact that King David took his chancellor straight from the English chancery, where he had been a clerk. This first chancellor of Scotland was the founder of the great Comyn family. The Ancestor, 10, 108.

2 Fordun, Annalia, vol. iv.

3 It is tempting to connect the extraordinary preponderance of mottes, as shown by Dr Christison's map, in the shires which made up ancient Galloway, Wigton, Kirkcudbright, and Dumfries, with the savage resistance offered by Galloway, which may have made it necessary for all the Norman under-tenants to fortify themselves, each in his own motte-castle. It is wiser, however, to delay such speculations until we have the more exact information as to the number of mottes in Scotland, which it is hoped will be furnished when the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments has finished its work. But this work will not be complete unless special attention is paid to the earthworks which now form part of stone castles, and which are too often overlooked, even by antiquaries. The New Statistical Account certainly raises the suspicion that there are many more mottes north of the Forth than are recognised in the map alluded to. In one district we are told that “almost every farm had its knap.“Forfarshire,” p. 326.

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12th century, none of her chroniclers being earlier than the end of the 14th century. As regards the subject which concerns this book, the building of castles, there are only one or two passages which lift the veil. A contemporary English chronicler, Ailred of Rievaulx, in his panegyric of David I., says that David decorated Scotland with castles and cities. In like manner Benedict of Peterborough tells us that when William the Lion was captured by Henry II.'s forces in 1174, the men of Galloway took the opportunity to destroy all the castles which the king had built in their country, expelling his seneschals and guards, and killing all the English and French whom they could catch.2 Fordun casually mentions the building of two castles in Ross by William the Lion; and once he gives us an anecdote which is a chance revelation of what must have been going on everywhere. A certain English knight, Robert, son of Godwin, whose Norman name shows that he was one of the Normanised English, tarried with the king's leave on an estate which King Edgar had given him in Lothian, and while he was seeking to build a castle there, he was attacked by the men of Bishop Ranulf of Durham, who objected to a castle being built so near the English frontier. 3

But even if historians had been entirely silent about the building of castles in Scotland, we should have been certain that it must have happened, as an inevitable part of the Norman settlement. Robertson remarks that the Scots in the time of David I. were still a pastoral and in some respects a migratory people, their

i Cited by Fordun, V., 43.
3 Benedict of Peterborough, i., 68, R. S.

3 Fordun, V., 26. Bower in one of his interpolations to Fordun's Annals, tells how a Highlander named Gillescop burnt certain wooden castles (quasdam munitiones ligneas) in Moray. Skene's Fordun, ii., 435.

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magnates not residing like great feudal nobles in their own castles, but moving about from place to place, and quartering themselves upon the dependent population. There is in fact no reason for supposing that the Keltic chiefs of Scotland built castles, any more than those of Wales or Ireland.' But the feudal system must very soon have covered Scotland with castles.

The absence of any stone castles of Norman type has puzzled Scottish historians, whose ideas of castles were associated with buildings in stone. In 1898 Dr Christison published his valuable researches into the Early Fortifications of Scotland, in which for the first time an estimate was attempted of the distribution of Scottish motes, and their Norman origin almost, if not quite, suspected. His book was quickly followed by Mr George Neilson's noteworthy paper on the “Motes in Norman Scotland, in which he showed that the wooden castle is the key which unlocks the historians' puzzle, and that the motes of Scotland are nothing but the evidence of the Norman feudal settlement.

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1 That Fordun should speak of the castra and municipia of Macduff is not surprising, seeing that he wrote in the 14th century, when a noble without a castle was a thing unthinkable.

2 Burton actually thought that the Normans built no castles in Scotland in the 12th century. Messrs MacGibbon and Ross remark that there is not one example of civil or military architecture of the 12th century, while there are so many fine specimens of ecclesiastical. Castellated Architecture of Scotland, i., 63. It is just to add that when speaking of the castles of William the Lion, they say: “It is highly probable that these and other castles of the 13th century were of the primeval kind, consisting of palisaded earthen mounds and ditches.” Ibid., iji. 6.

3 Mote is the word used in Scotland, as in the north of England, Pembrokeshire, and Ireland, for the Norman motte. As the word is still a living word in Scotland, its original sense has been partly lost, and it seems to be now applied to some defensive works which are not mottes at all. But the true motes of Scotland entirely resemble the mottes of France and England.

4 Scottish Review, xxxii., 232.

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