Ancient Monuments

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Peel Hill, motte and bailey castle, Selkirk

A Scheduled Monument in Selkirkshire, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.5437 / 55°32'37"N

Longitude: -2.8414 / 2°50'29"W

OS Eastings: 347002

OS Northings: 628095

OS Grid: NT470280

Mapcode National: GBR 84LB.MK

Mapcode Global: WH7WV.BX5J

Entry Name: Peel Hill, motte and bailey castle, Selkirk

Scheduled Date: 6 October 1970

Last Amended: 8 July 2015

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2967

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: motte

Location: Selkirk

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Selkirkshire

Traditional County: Selkirkshire


The monument is the remains of a motte and bailey castle. It was constructed before AD 1119, and was rebuilt as a 'pele' (or peel) by Edward I in 1302. The visible remains comprise a large, generally flat-topped mound with a round motte at the N end. The monument stands around 190m above sea level at the S end of the town of Selkirk, between the S end of Castle Street and Haining Loch. It forms part of the designed landscape of The Haining.

The monument occupies the S end of an irregular ridge that extends NNE-SSW from Selkirk towards Haining Loch. The S end of the ridge has been modified during the creation and remodelling of the castle to form a mound that measures about 145m NNE-SSW by 110m transversely. The highest feature is the motte at the N end. The summit slopes down to the SW and measures about 12m in diameter. Although the motte is now rounded and spread, its base is well defined to the S and E. The bailey lies to the S and SW. Its interior measures about 80m WSW-ENE and is relatively level, being defined by clear breaks of slope to the W and SW and more gradual ones to the E and SE. Beyond the bailey, the ground slopes away steeply to the SW and S. A long linear hollow aligned N-S bounds the motte and bailey on the E side. It measures 100m long and 16m wide and probably represents the remains of large ditch.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes all timber and brick/concrete steps, the above-ground elements of all benches, waymark posts and the memorial to Ronald. The monument was first scheduled in 1970, but the documents did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the layout, construction and use of medieval castles. It was a royal castle and can enhance understanding of how castles were used by Scottish kings of the 12th and 13th centuries and by Edward I of England. The monument remains clearly readable as an earthwork, with both motte and bailey well-defined and bounded by steep slopes on several sides. The castle would have dominated the medieval landscape of Selkirk and continues to be a very significant feature of The Haining designed landscape. It is referred to in important documents such as the charter that established Selkirk Abbey, founded by David I before 1124 (when he became king). Other documents indicate the monument's role in the Wars of Independence in the early 14th century. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the establishment and remodelling of motte and bailey castles and 'peles' in Scotland and their role in medieval society.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NT42NE 9.

ReferencesFrancoz, C and Lelong, O 2014 'Selkirk Castle Community Archaeology Project', Northlight Heritage (unpubl rep), 84.

RCAHMS, 1957 An Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Selkirkshire with the Fifteenth Report of the Commission, 47-9, no 24, fig 13.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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