Page images



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.1 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. 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

1 Cited by Fordun, v., 43.

2 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.


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.2 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.

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., iii. 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.



Two important points urged in Mr Neilson's paper are the feudal and legal connection of these motes. He has given a list of mottes which are known to have been the site of the "chief messuages" of baronies in the 13th and 14th centuries, and has collected the names of a great number which were seats of justice, or places where "saisine" of a barony was taken, not because they were moot-hills, but because the administration of justice remained fixed in the ancient site of the baron's castle. "The doctrine of the chief messuage, which became of large importance in peerage law, made it at times of moment to have on distinct record the nomination of what the chief messuage was, often for the imperative function of taking sasine. In many instances the caput baronia, or the court or place for the ceremonial entry to possession, is the 'moit,' the mothill,' the 'auld castell,' the 'auld wark,' the 'castellsteid,' the 'auld castellsteid,' the 'courthill,' or in Latin mons placiti, mons viridis, or mons castri."1 In certain places where two mottes are to be found, he was able to prove that two baronies had once had their seats. Another point which Mr Neilson worked out is the relation of bordlands to mottes. Bordland or borland, though an English word, is not pre-Conquest; it refers to "that species of demesne which the lord reserves for the supply of his own table." It is constantly found in the near proximity of mottes.2

The following is a list of thirty-eight Anglo-Norman or Normanised adventurers settled in Scotland, on whose lands mottes are to be found. The list must be regarded as a tentative one, for had all the names given by Chalmers been included, it would have been more than doubled. But the difficulties of obtain2 Ibid., p. 236.

1 Scottish Review, xxxii., 232.

ing topographical information were SO great that it has been judged expedient to give only the names of those families who are known to have held lands, and in most cases to have had their principal residences, in places where mottes are or formerly were existing.1

ANSTRUTHER.-William de Candela obtained the lands of Anstruther, in Fife, from David I. His descendants took the surname of Anstruther. The "Mothlaw" of Anstruther is mentioned in 1590.2

"At the W. end of

the town there is a large mound, called the Chester Hill, in the middle of which is a fine well." (N. S. A., 1845.) The well is an absolute proof that this was the site of a castle.

AVENEL.-Walter de Avenel held Abercorn Castle and estate, in Linlithgow, in the middle of the 12th century. The castle stood on a green mound (N. S. A.) which is clearly marked in the O.M.

BALLIOL. The De Bailleul family had their seat at Barnard Castle, in Durham, after the Conquest. They obtained lands in Galloway from David I., and had strongholds at Buittle, and Kenmure, in Kirkcudbright. At Buittle the site of the castle exists, a roughly triangular bailey with a motte at one corner; and at Kenmure the O.M. clearly shows a motte, as does the picture in Grose's

[ocr errors]

1 This list is mainly compiled from Chalmers' Caledonia, vol. i., book iv., ch. i. The letter C. refers to Dr Christison's Early Fortifications in Scotland; N., to Mr Neilson's paper in the Scottish Review, 1898; O.M., to the 25-inch Ordnance Map; G., to the Gazetteer of Scotland. It is a matter of great regret to the writer that she has been unable to do any personal visitation of the Scottish castles, except in the cases of Roxburgh and Jedburgh. It is therefore impossible to be absolutely certain that all the hillocks mentioned in this list are true mottes, or whether all of them still exist.

2 Registrum Magni Sigilli, quoted by Christison, p. 19.

3 A plan is given by Mr Coles in "the Motes, Forts, and Doons of Kirkcudbright." Soc. Ant. Scot., 1891-1892.



Antiquities of Scotland. The terraces probably date from the time when the modern house on top was built.

BARCLAY.-The De Berkeleys sprang from the De Berkeleys of England, and settled in Scotland in the 12th century. Walter de Berkeley was Chamberlain of Scotland in 1165; William the Lion gave him the manor of Inverkeilor, in Forfarshire; there he built a castle, on Lunan Bay. "An artificial mound on the west side of the bay, called the Corbie's Knowe, bears evident marks of having been a castle long previous to the erection of Redcastle." (N. S. A.) The family also had lands in what is now Aberdeenshire, and at Towie, in the parish of Auchterless, they had a castle. "Close to the church artificial eminence of

of Auchterless there is a small an oval shape, surrounded by a ditch, which is now in many places filled up. It still retains the name of the Moat Head, and was formerly the seat of the baronial court." (N. S. A.; N.; C.)

BRUCE.-The De Brus held lands in North Yorkshire at the time of the Domesday Survey. David I. gave them the barony of Annan, in Dumfriesshire. The original charter of this grant still exists in the British. Museum, witnessed by a galaxy of Norman names.1 Their chief castles were at Annan and Lochmaben. At Annan, near the site of a later castle, there is still a motte about 50 feet high, with a vast ditch and some traces of a bailey (N.), called the Moat (N. S. A.). The "terras de Moit et Bailyis, intra le Northgate," are mentioned in 1582. South of the town of Lochmaben, on the N.W. side of the loch, is a fine motte called Castle Hill, with some remains of masonry, which is still pointed out as the original castle of the

1 M'Ferlie, Lands and Their Owners in Galloway, ii., 47.

« PreviousContinue »