Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Balnagask motte, Baxter Place, Aberdeen

A Scheduled Monument in Torry/Ferryhill, Aberdeen City

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »
Street or Overhead View
Contributor Photos »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.

Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1369 / 57°8'12"N

Longitude: -2.072 / 2°4'19"W

OS Eastings: 395743

OS Northings: 805110

OS Grid: NJ957051

Mapcode National: GBR SH5.23

Mapcode Global: WH9QR.4WM5

Entry Name: Balnagask motte, Baxter Place, Aberdeen

Scheduled Date: 30 October 2002

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM10403

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: motte

Location: Aberdeen

County: Aberdeen City

Electoral Ward: Torry/Ferryhill

Traditional County: Kincardineshire

Description

The monument comprises a motte of medieval date, visible as a substantial grass-covered mound.

The motte lies within the grounds of Balnagask House, opposite Mains of Balnagask, in what is now a modern housing estate, adjacent to Baxter Place, Aberdeen. Before it was subsumed within the SE outskirts of Aberdeen, the motte would have occupied a prominent position, at around 20m OD, overlooking the Dee Estuary and Nigg Bay.

Mottes are artificial mounds which were once topped with timber castles. This type of monument was common in twelfth and thirteenth-century Scotland, a significant element in the feudal landscape. Mottes were sometimes accompanied by baileys (enclosed courtyards for ancillary buildings), although there are no traces of a bailey at Balnagask.

A Normanised Celtic family, with the territorial designation of de Nug, held the lands here in the twelfth century. Otherwise, little is known of the historical associations of this motte, although it is thought to have been located within a hunting reserve.

The motte still stands around 6m high, although its top was re-modelled in the early twentieth century obscuring any traces of medieval remains on its upper surface. It is surrounded around much of its perimeter by a high retaining wall of early modern date. The ground surface behind the wall is c.2m higher than the level of Baxter Place, indicating that the insertion of the wall and road cut through the outer edges of the motte and any associated remains.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to survive. It is irregular in shape, with maximum dimensions of 74m NNW-SSE by 54m WSW-ENE, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

It is confined within the existing high boundary wall around the NE, E and S edges of the site, and a wooden fence around the NW and W. The boundary walls and fences are excluded from the scheduling to allow for routine maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as an impressive motte, a rare survival of a castle mound in Aberdeen, which has the potential to contribute to an understanding of the organisation, settlement and economy of the feudal landscape in the immediate hinterland of an important medieval town. The motte itself has the potential to elucidate the nature and development of medieval fortified settlement and economy.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NJ 90 NE 3.

Bibliography:

Bogdan, N. and Bryce, I. B. D. (1991) 'Castles, manors and town houses survey', Discovery & Excavation in Scotland, 23.

Meldrum, E. (1957) 'Mounth passes and motehills', The Deeside Field, 2 ser, 2, 22.

Scottish Castle Survey (1988) Aberdeen, 6. no. 4/2.

Yeoman, P. A. (1988) 'Mottes in NE Scotland', Scot Archaeol Rev, 5, 130, 132, no. 2.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

AncientMonuments.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact AncientMonuments.uk for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself.

AncientMonuments.uk is a Good Stuff website.