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Wauchope Castle, castle and manse 235m SSW of Springhill

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale East and Eskdale, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.1461 / 55°8'45"N

Longitude: -3.014 / 3°0'50"W

OS Eastings: 335465

OS Northings: 583993

OS Grid: NY354839

Mapcode National: GBR 78DY.82

Mapcode Global: WH7YP.NXYB

Entry Name: Wauchope Castle, castle and manse 235m SSW of Springhill

Scheduled Date: 15 March 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12617

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: Manse, priest's residence, etc; Secular: bailey

Location: Langholm

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale East and Eskdale

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the remains of a medieval motte-and-bailey castle, a later stone castle and a 17th-century manse. The monument is located at around 90m above sea level on the W side of a gorge, through which runs the Wauchope Water.

The motte of the original Wauchope Castle occupies a rocky eminence, around 4m high. The N side of the monument is bounded by a purpose-cut ditch and by two watercourses, the Becks Burn and Wauchope Water, which converge at the NE corner of the site. The monument is surrounded by a ditch where the land slopes down on its W and S sides and has outer earthwork banks. The ditch measures up to 7m in breadth, while the outer bank is up to 5m wide and 0.9m high. The total extent of the monument is around 150m SSW-NNE by up to around 75m transversely. The inner area, bounded by the river and moat measures around 90m SSW-NNE by around 30m transversely. A later road, the B7068, runs through the western ditch. The remains of a stone revetment can be traced along the upper edge of the river cliff, to the east. The motte is presumed to have been levelled prior to the construction of the later stone castle. Excavation in 1966 revealed foundations of walls around 1.2m wide and composed of river cobbles.

A number of other earthworks are superimposed on those relating to the castle. In the eastern outer bank are the remains of two kilns. On the W side of the inner area are the stone footings of a two-cell post-Reformation manse, which measures 20m from NNE-SSW by around 8m transversely. At right angles to the manse on the south are the remains of a second building, parts of which have been removed through later quarrying. A third building, the remains of which comprise turf-covered stone wall-footings, lies on the south close to the bottom of the slope down to the ditch and measures 6.5m by 4m. At the northern end of the inner area is a trackway oriented NNE-SSW, once the drive to the manse.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan to include the visible remains of the monument, as well as an area around it within which evidence relating to its construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area runs up to but excludes the post-and-wire fence on either side of the road. To allow for their maintenance, the scheduling excludes the above-ground elements of all other fences and telegraph poles.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The earthwork remains of the castle and the outer banks are still a clearly discernable and visually impressive element in the surrounding landscape. The bank, ditch and watercourses that delineate the monument are demonstrably defensive in character and must have signified a site of local power and prestige to which access was strictly controlled.

Fragmentary elements of the foundations of the later stone castle, constructed of river cobbles, were revealed beneath the footings of the manse through excavation in 1966. Another poorly documented excavation is understood to have been undertaken on the castle at the end of 19th century. The small-scale nature of these excavations indicate that the monument still retains an inherent potential to further our knowledge of early and later castle construction and inform our understanding of how such constructions are developed and augmented through time.

Finds from the 1966 excavation were sparse and comprised a sherd of 13th-century pottery. An enamel hasp was recovered from the bank of Becks Burn at the end of 19th century. It was French, dated to the 13th century and would probably originally have been fitted to a coffer. Finds such as these indicate that artefacts associated with the monument have a capacity to further our knowledge of the lives of the inhabitants and increase our understanding of their material culture and the links that they demonstrate with the wider world.

The survival of the later manse, known to have been abandoned in the mid-19th century, also indicates that the location developed over time and the uses to which it was put evolved. The placing of an ecclesiastical structure on a site with a tradition as a centre of local authority is intriguing and further research may indicate the exact nature of the relationship between secular and ecclesiastical power at this location.

Contextual characteristics

Wauchope Castle is situated adjacent to the Wauchope Water around 1090m WSW of the centre of Langholm. Topographically the monument is located at a position that could monitor and control movement to Langholm from Lockerbie, being at a crossing point of the river and within the river valley, a communication route. This is attested by the fact that around 190m to the north-east of the castle, excavation in 1965 uncovered the remains of a pack horse bridge and associated pottery of 13th-century date.

There are 14 timber castles, some with later stone elements, and two stone castles recorded in eastern Dumfries and Galloway. Analysis of the known timber castles in the area has indicated that their siting is primarily to protect the lordship of Annandale from intrusions from Galloway, and also to protect routeways through eastern Dumfriesshire into the rest of the Kingdom. The location of Wauchope Castle would appear to fit within this pattern.

The old parish church, located around 50m to the NE, is mentioned in 1220 when its revenues were annexed to Jedburgh. The church was demolished after 1703 when the parish was united with Staplegorton and half of Morton to form Langholm parish. The churchyard continued in use into the 19th century and fragments of grave architecture collected from the graveyard include a grave-slab of possibly early Christian date indicating that there may have been a chapel here prior to the construction of the castle.

This proximity of the castle to the former church may also reflect an Anglo-French influence. Royalty brought Anglo-Normans into parts of Scotland to strengthen the feudal system and grants of land may have been conditional on the foundation of a church. Close proximity to estate centres can mark proprietorial foundations and reflect this process of feudalisation. Eight of the late-medieval churches known within this area are immediately adjacent to the sites of timber castles. The fact that the Church of Scotland now owns all the land at Wauchope and this forms part of the glebe in this area demonstrates potential longevity in land tenure. The monument should be valued for its potential to inform our understanding of the nature of developing relationships between church and state.

In the wider landscape, 1180m to the north-east is Langholm Castle, a 16th-century tower house and stronghold of the Armstrong family. The date and location of this structure points to a transfer of power from Wauchope and the Lindsay family when the Wauchope castle became ruined in the mid-16th century. The reasons for this shift after at least 300 years are unclear.

Further analysis of the monument and comparison with contemporaneous structures has the capacity to inform our knowledge of how centres of power and lordship were distributed through the landscape and perhaps identify patterns in how they developed through time from construction through to abandonment, and to infom our understanding of how royal power functioned in the landscape and how feudalism and changes in patterns of land tenure impacted on the local landscape.

Associative characteristics

The monument is noted on both 1st and 2nd edition Ordnance Surveys maps as 'Wauchope Castle (remains of)' and on recent maps as 'Castle Earthworks'.

The castle and later ecclesiastical site are well documented and its value is enhanced by these historical associations. The date of construction of the motte and bailey is unclear but is probably in the early to mid-12th century. However, the lands of Wauchope were granted to Sir John Lindsay, of Norman origin, in 1285 and the construction of the stone castle may relate to this event. The Lindsay family held the castle for the next 300 years. The castle is documented as ruined by 1580, though the church to the north, first mentioned in 1220, remained in use until around 1703.

While we still have much to learn about the date, form and development of medieval castles in Scotland, they reflect the introduction of new southern political ideas (feudalism) and sometimes foreign forms of castle building. With its characteristically prominent position, the construction and occupation of a castle such as Wauchope, would have spoken loudly of the presence of new lords and new ways of doing things. Its location overlooking the former Wauchope parish church and a main route into the valleys of the Esk and Ewes Waters emphasised this presence.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to inform our knowledge of the advance of a new form of centralised, royal authority into southern Scotland during the 12th and 13th centuries. As a centre of local lordship, it can contribute to the relatively small body of knowledge for this process, as well as evidence for medieval rural landuse, settlement and economy. The castle buildings and associated remains have the potential to provide information about its date, construction, form and use that can contribute to our understanding of the development and use of medieval castles in the lowland zone, and in Scotland in general. The loss of this important castle site would erode our ability to understand the development of castles in Scotland and medieval lordship and society in the region.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NY38SE 1, Wauchope Castle motte-and-bailey castle; kilns; manse. Dumfries and Galloway Council Sites and Monument Record assigns the index number MDG10406. Copies of both these reports are appended.


McCracken, A 1970, 'Excavation at Wauchope castle, 1966', Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc, 47 (1969-70), 193-4.

RCAHMS, 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, 190, 192, 194, 196, 197, 200-1, 243, 281, 311, no. 1264, Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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