Ancient Monuments

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Mote of Annan, motte-and-bailey castle, 70m SSW of Moat House

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale South, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 54.9888 / 54°59'19"N

Longitude: -3.2641 / 3°15'50"W

OS Eastings: 319210

OS Northings: 566755

OS Grid: NY192667

Mapcode National: GBR 5BNR.3G

Mapcode Global: WH6Y6.TVVW

Entry Name: Mote of Annan, motte-and-bailey castle, 70m SSW of Moat House

Scheduled Date: 25 March 1954

Last Amended: 19 December 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM702

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: motte

Location: Annan

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale South

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises a motte-and-bailey castle dating to the 12th century AD. It survives as large, elongated earthworks under a mixture of parkland and mature amenity woodland. The W half of the monument has been denuded by substantial riverbank erosion. Motte-and-bailey castles are one of the main forms of medieval defensive works in Scotland, beginning in the early 12th century and characterising local centres of administration, economy and land tenure. The monument is located between the W edge of the town of Annan and the E bank of the River Annan at approximately 10m above sea level. The monument was first scheduled in 1954 but an inadequate area was included to protect all the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

This motte and bailey consists of a roughly circular earth and stone mound (the motte) up to approximately 15m in diameter and 6m high. An outer ditch that partly surrounds the E side probably provided some of the building material for the mound itself. The top of the motte is now uneven but originally its platform supported a timber castle. The protected outer enclosure (the bailey) was formed from a series of defensive ditches that created upcast material for a raised internal platform. The bailey is separated from the motte by a ditch and extends south of it for approximately 260m. As with the motte, it was probably originally protected by a wooden palisade and also contained timber buildings.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes all walls, fences and other modern boundaries, as well as the top 300mm of all existing paths, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The motte-and-bailey castle at Annan is well preserved, retaining a large proportion of its estimated original shape, extent and structure, despite the impact of riverbank erosion along its western half. It has the potential to provide information about the date and nature of its construction and subsequent use, as well as sealing evidence for earlier land use and the local environment. The date of abandonment of the castle is uncertain, but it seems part of it was swept away by the river Annan in the 12th century. This is significant because it means that Anglo-Norman occupation was short-lived and that later military activity did not destroy earlier evidence for the use of the castle.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is a large example of a class of over 300 fortified earthworks dating from the 12th century that are clustered across Scotland. It forms part of group that stretches from the River Clyde to the Solway Firth and is significant not only in its size but its position, controlling land that formed part of the disputed territory between Scotland and England. Some researchers suggest that it was part of a more strategic initiative to conclusively hold the border territory between the Irish Sea and the North Sea.

Associative characteristics

The earthwork remains of timber castles are the most visible reminders of the Anglo-Norman landscape in this part of Scotland, where they are a reflection of the establishment of royal control. The monument has a direct association with Robert the Bruce through his father. Robert Bruce was granted the castle and the lands of Annadale in 1124 by David I and, despite its relatively short occupation, it was influential in the strategic control of this part of the Scottish/English border. It is a good example of a type of fortification associated with the development of feudal land tenure in Scotland.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular the construction and function of medieval lordly residences and defended sites built in the 12th century and their role in the security and control of land, including at the border with England. Its loss would impede our ability to understand the construction and use of such monuments, their placing within the contemporary landscape, and the social structure and economy of the time.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NY16NE 4.


McNeill P G B and MacQueen H L 1996, ATLAS OF SCOTTISH HISTORY TO 1707, The Scottish Medievalists and Department of Geography, University of Edinburgh: Edinburgh.



Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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