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Coats Hill, motte 480m north east of St Margaret's

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.3224 / 55°19'20"N

Longitude: -3.4638 / 3°27'49"W

OS Eastings: 307214

OS Northings: 604124

OS Grid: NT072041

Mapcode National: GBR 467W.WW

Mapcode Global: WH5VF.RHR4

Entry Name: Coats Hill, motte 480m NE of St Margaret's

Scheduled Date: 21 July 1937

Last Amended: 13 March 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM686

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: motte

Location: Kirkpatrick-Juxta

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains associated with an Anglo-Norman timber castle likely to date to the 12th century AD. It is visible as a substantial mound with associated earthworks, probably built on a natural rise. It stands in a prominent position, in pasture, at around 170m above sea level on the spur between the Annan and Evan Waters that carried the Roman road north into Clydesdale. The monument was first scheduled in 1937, but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains; the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The overall footprint of the visible remains measures about 55m ENE-WSW by 35m transversely. The most prominent feature is an earth mound that measures 40m ENE-WSW by 30m transversely at its base narrowing to 20m by 19m at its oval summit. The mound is around 5m high; it has a rounded profile when viewed from the west and north, but appears more flat-topped from the south-east. At its base on the ENE is a ditch up to 5m broad and 3.5m deep. To the WSW is a terrace overlain by a later field bank; a ditch recorded here in the early 20th century is now filled in. Archaeologists noted rubble in eroded sections to the WSW, NNE, E and SSE sides of the motte summit in 1990.

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

The monument represents the well-preserved earthworks of a timber castle. The motte and elements of a surrounding ditch are well preserved and the motte retains a good proportion of its estimated original shape, extent and structure, and displays little evidence of damage. The motte is likely to preserve evidence of its construction, use and abandonment phases, as well as any settlement or activity that predated it. The potential is high for survival of evidence for the form of buildings and upstanding defensive works. Silted ditches may contain important palaeoenvironmental evidence that can help us reconstruct the environment when the site was in use. Researchers suggest the site had a relatively short development sequence, and this can help us understand more easily the archaeological meaning of the site and its function. The lack of evidence for later developments on the site may suggest it was abandoned relatively early, perhaps in the later 12th or earlier 13th centuries.

Contextual characteristics

This is one of over 300 fortified earthworks in Scotland probably dating from the 12th century. These fortified settlements were likely to be symbolic as well as functional, marking and protecting the lands of emerging lordships and the route ways through them. These strongholds are generally limited to an area between the Clyde and the Solway but there are examples along other main route ways (often by significant water courses) such as those to the north of the Forth in E Scotland and stretching up to and including the Moray coast. Other examples survive in Caithness, Argyll and the Highlands. The greatest density of these sites is in Dumfries and Galloway and this reflects the historically strategic importance of SW Scotland and the route north from the Solway to the Clyde.

This monument is one of 11 timber castles identified in Annandale. They lay within an Anglo-Norman lordship created when David I installed Robert de Brus as Lord of Annandale in 1124. Researchers have suggested that the king created the lordship specifically to contain and control Galloway and Nithsdale to the west and to secure the route north into Clydesdale. The Brus family established large motte-and'bailey castles at Annan and Lochmaben to act as their principal power bases. Researchers interpret this monument as one of the minor timber castles of the Brus lordship, one of a group mainly held by vassals of Brus; it was of significantly smaller scale than Annan and Lochmaben but had a different function. The remains of directly comparable timber castles exist on the Garpol Water 2km to the west and at Wamphray, Lochwood, and Hutton, all within 20km to the south. This monument is one of only two in Annandale for which no suggestion of ownership can be made. Auldton, a classic motte-and-bailey castle 3km to the NE, differs from this site because it was built on land managed directly by the lordship of Annandale and can be ascribed to the Brus family itself; it thus offers an interesting local comparator. The monument has additional interest because, unlike all the other small timber castles in eastern Dumfries and Galloway, there is no firm evidence to indicate the presence of a bailey. Accordingly, it may represent an unusual or incomplete design.

The Brus family held Moffat directly for most of the 14th century, perhaps suggesting that there would not have been vassals with their own small castles in the vicinity by that time. There is no evidence that any of the Annandale timber castles, except Lochmaben, figured in the endemic warfare of the late 13th and 14th centuries.

Associative characteristics

The earthwork remains of timber castles are the most visible reminders of the Anglo-Norman landscape in this part of Scotland. They reflect the establishment of royal control by granting the rights for land ownership and lordship. The Lordship of Annandale is associated with Robert the Bruce, in that David I granted it to his father in 1124.

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 strongholds. It retains a significant proportion of its field characteristics and is a well-preserved example of it class, with little sign of later disturbance. From it, we can learn much about medieval castle construction as well as the wider control of land and route ways in SW Scotland. Its importance is enhanced because it can be compared with other monuments in the vicinity, associated with families of differing status. The loss of this example would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand settlement and land tenure in medieval Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

The above-ground elements of the pylons and overhead power lines close to the SW boundary of the scheduled area are outside the scheduled area.

RCAHMS record the site as NT00SE 12. Dumfries and Galloway Council Sites and Monuments Record records the site as MDG4595.

References

Brooke, C J 2000, Safe Sanctuaries: Security and Defence in Anglo-Scottish Border Churches 1290-1690, Edinburgh.

RCAHMS 1920, Seventh Report with Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the County of Dumfries, Edinburgh: HMSO.

RCAHMS 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, Edinburgh: The Stationery Office.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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