Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Dundreggan Farm, motte 35m south west of

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Latitude: 57.1918 / 57°11'30"N

Longitude: -4.7663 / 4°45'58"W

OS Eastings: 232940

OS Northings: 814619

OS Grid: NH329146

Mapcode National: GBR G9LQ.CHD

Mapcode Global: WH2F9.RHJJ

Entry Name: Dundreggan Farm, motte 35m SW of

Scheduled Date: 31 March 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11875

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: motte

Location: Urquhart and Glenmoriston

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument comprises a medieval motte situated in garden ground at Dundreggan Farm overlooking the road along the N bank of the river in Glen Moriston.

Mottes are mounds, usually artificial, which formed the foundations for timber (sometimes stone) castles. In Scotland these date from the 12th to the 13th centuries, appearing in N Scotland in the third quarter of the 12th century. They were generally surrounded by a ditch and accompanied by a bailey (enclosed courtyard for ancillary buildings), although there are no surviving traces of either at this site.

The mound at Dundreggan has the classic 'truncated cone' profile of a motte. Its base is sub-circular in shape and measures approximately 33 m across. The mound is about 10 m in height and has an oval flat top measuring 11 m E to W by 7 m transversely. Its shape suggests that it is an artificially enhanced natural eminence. Metalled roadways bound three sides of the motte and construction of these may have caused some truncation of the mound. A curving drystone dyke, approximately half of which remains upstanding, formerly enclosed the motte to the N, W and S. A row of mature broadleaf trees are established along the S edge of the mound and rhododendron bushes have been planted along the N edge.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around in which evidence for their construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic character: The motte survives in a significant upstanding and extant form. Its profile, a truncated cone, is typical of this characteristic of this class of monument. It retains a good proportion of its estimated original shape, extent and structure despite the impact of subsequent localized disturbance around its base. There is no record of earlier investigation of this site which retains the potential to provide information about the date and nature of its construction and subsequent use, as well as sealing evidence for earlier landuse.

Contextual characteristics: Around 300 mottes are found in Scotland, although we know of few to the N and W of the Great Glen. Varying in form, they chart the extent of royal power, reflecting where land was granted to incomers in return for military service. The majority are found in peripheral parts of the kingdom where political unrest might be expected. Mottes therefore indicate where local power centres, often undocumented, are to be found. They also have the potential to enable us to understand the impact of feudalism, patterns of land tenure and the evolution of the local landscape. Mottes are one of the ranges of later medieval castle types found in Scotland.

Associative characteristics: While we still have much to learn about the date, form and development of mottes in Scotland, they reflect 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 that at Dundreggan would have spoken loudly of the presence of new lords and new ways of doing things. Its location overlooking and controlling the route along Glen Moriston emphasised this visibility.

Since its construction, the monument has been a highly visible, constant topographical feature in the evolving local landscape.

The history of the monument is not known, but it is probable that the motte at Dundreggan was contemporary with the establishment of Urquhart Castle by the powerful Durward family, who were granted the lordship of Urquhart by Alexander II in 1233. The large extent of this lordship and the topography of the area argue in favour of the existence of a second tier of seigneurial centres.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it is a prominent, visual reminder of the advance of a new form of centralised, royal authority into N 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 well-preserved earthwork has the potential to provide information about its date, construction and use which can contribute to our understanding of the development and use of medieval castles in the Highland zone, and in Scotland in general.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the monument as NH31SW20; Highland Council SMR as NH31SW0005 (copies of their short reports are appended).


McNeil, P G B and MacQueen, H L 1996 Atlas of Scottish History to 1707 (Edinburgh).

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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