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Hutton Mote, motte

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.1912 / 55°11'28"N

Longitude: -3.3156 / 3°18'56"W

OS Eastings: 316339

OS Northings: 589340

OS Grid: NY163893

Mapcode National: GBR 588D.ZW

Mapcode Global: WH6X7.1SD6

Entry Name: Hutton Mote, motte

Scheduled Date: 23 March 1937

Last Amended: 15 March 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: motte

Location: Hutton and Corrie

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the upstanding remains of a motte and possibly bailey that lies on the NE end of a flat-topped ridge, around 210m above sea level and 390m south of Hutton Burn, a tributary to Dryfe Water. It is visible as an earth mound and ditch with outlying defences. The monument was last scheduled in 1937, but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The mound is around 30m in diameter and up to 7m high and sits within a ditch measuring around 7m wide and 2m deep. An L-shaped extension of the ditch lies to the north-west of the motte. It has an internal bank and encloses a rectangular platform measuring around 10m by 5m. The top of the motte no longer retains its original level surface. The summit of the ridge that the motte sits on provides a natural bailey to the south-west. A slight depression, which may indicate a bailey ditch, traverses the ridge around 40m from the motte.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

Despite soil creep the monument retains a substantial proportion of its estimated original shape and extent and is a good example of a medieval motte-and-bailey-type timber castle with external earthworks. This type of monument normally dates from around the 12th century, and is most likely to belong to the period after Robert de Brus was made Lord of Annandale by David I in 1124. The lack of any later developments on the site may suggest that occupation was short, possibly until the early 13th century.

It has a well-defined motte and ditch that are likely to contain deposits and archaeological features relating to the construction, occupation and abandonment of the site and evidence for their date. For example, the top of the motte may provide archaeological evidence relating to the construction of a timber castle. Potential also exists for preservation of a buried soil beneath the motte and banks and for environmental remains to survive within the fills of the ditch. This evidence could provide information about the environment within which later medieval people built the settlement. Buried deposits also have the potential to add to our understanding of the function of this type of monument and its status as a power centre in the medieval period.

Contextual characteristics

These types of castles are associated with the spread of feudal society, and in Scotland are commonly associated with the attempts by 12th-century rulers to control the land through the settling of an immigrant aristocracy. They have the potential to enable us to understand the impact of feudalism, patterns of land tenure and the evolution of the local landscape. The association of this type of monument with the ruling classes makes them relatively rare in comparison to other settlement sites as only around 300 mottes are known in Scotland. This monument is one of 11 timber castles identified in Annandale. It is unusual because it has outer defences that do not seem to be associated with a bailey. They have been described as a possible barbican (fortifications to defend the entrance to the castle) but this has not been substantiated.

The monument's place in the landscape is also extremely important as it occupies an elevated position with commanding views, which gives the castle total control over the surrounding land and makes it a highly defensible site. Defensibility must have played a role in the positioning of the castle, which is located around one km to the east of the Roman road that travelled up to the heart of David I's kingdom.

As well as being defensive, mottes were also often the centre of estates and can often indicate where local power centres, often undocumented, are to be found. These estates formed the basis of the modern parish structure. Therefore their placement in the landscape and how they relate to other mottes is important in understanding the evolution of the local landscape. The monument's relationship with the historical medieval chapel of Hutton, which may lie on the site of the present parish church of Hutton and Corrie, is also significant in understanding the monument in its medieval landscape.

Associative characteristics

There was a constant friction between the former kingdom of Strathclyde, which included Annandale, and Galloway, which included Nithsdale. During the first year of his reign in 1124 King David I made Robert de Brus Lord of Annandale. Robert de Brus was to help contain Fergus, Lord of Galloway, who was a 'king' in his own right amongst his community, and help secure the route into Clydesdale. This policy of containment was important in this area for nearly all of the 12th century.

This was the first major recorded act of military feudalism in Scotland and marked the beginning of the building of motte-and-bailey castles in this region. The building of mottes reflected the introduction of new, southern political ideas (feudalism) and foreign forms of castle building. With its characteristically prominent form, the construction and occupation of a motte such as this would have spoken loudly of the presence of new lords and new ways of doing things.

The Brus family established large motte-and'bailey castles at Annan and Lochmaben to act as their principal power bases. This monument is interpreted as one of the minor timber castles of the Brus lordship, more likely to be ascribed to his principal followers. It was of significantly smaller scale than Annan and Lochmaben and had a different function. Historically we do not know who constructed Hutton Motte, however by 1193 the chapel of Hutton was granted to Jedburgh Abbey by Adam, Lord of Hutton. So it would seem reasonable to conclude that his father Gilbert, Lord of Hutton, lived there with his wife Juliana and that it was their seat of power.

The monument has strong connections with the surrounding area, being the medieval administrative centre, and is likely to have played a significant role in the lives of the people living around it. The motte is mentioned in a grant of part of the lands of Hutton dated 1664. While the continued use of 'Hutton' in the name of the parish and the local farm to the north also demonstrates this importance. The inclusion of the site on Ordnance Survey 1st and 2nd Edition mapping also suggests an awareness of the site as a historical place and an attachment of value.

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 12th-century defensive structures in eastern Dumfries and Galloway and the construction and use of timber fortifications. It represents the advance of centralised, royal authority during the 12th and 13th centuries and can contribute to the relatively small body of knowledge relating to landuse, rural settlement and economy of the period in this part of Scotland. More specifically, evidence for dating the monument, its construction, use and abandonment are all likely to survive and thus contribute to our understanding of how medieval castles developed in the south and in Scotland in general. It also has the potential to shed light on the feudalisation of this part of Scotland. Buried deposits from such sites have the potential to tell us about wider society at the time, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contact with. Its loss would impede our ability to understand the 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 NY18NE 1 and the Dumfries and Galloway SMR as MDG9702.


Cowan, I B 1967, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland, Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh, 93.

RCAHMS 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, RCAHMS, Edinburgh.

Taylor, T L 1933, 'Hutton Mote', Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc, 18 (1931-3), 378-81.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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