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Druchtag Motte

A fine example of a motte castle

Druchtag Motte

A fine example of a motte castle in a part of Scotland where this type of early timber castle proliferated in the 12th and 13th centuries.

A very steep climb.


Scotland’s first castles

Mottes were the fortified residences of feudal lords. They were built not only for defence but as symbols of lordship. They were centres of local government, administration and justice, as well as fortified homes for those who held land of the Crown.

Mottes, or motte-and-baileys, appeared in Scotland in the early 1100s during the reign of David I (1124–53), who introduced Norman feudalism. They were replaced by stone castles from the 1200s.

However, a few mottes were built during the Wars of Independence (1296–1356) between Scotland and England, because they were quick and cheap to build and perfectly adequate as places of strength.


Earthwork and timber

Mottes were built almost entirely, though not exclusively, of earthwork and timber. At Druchtag all that survives is the steep-sided mound and the deep ditch (partly silted up) around its base.

The lord’s timber residence once stood on the flat summit, protected by a timber palisade around the edge. There is now no trace of the bailey – the less well-defended service court – on which the other castle buildings stood (hall, kitchen, chapel, etc.).


Unknown date and lord

We do not know who built Druchtag Motte, or when. The motte has never been archaeologically excavated, and the records contain no information about who held the land in the 1100s.

The builder may have been an incoming lord, granted land in Galloway by the Scottish Crown to help bring the independent-minded Gallovidians to order. (The best motte-and-bailey in Scotland is the Mote of Urr, east of Kirkcudbright, built by Walter de Berkeley, the king’s chamberlain.)

It is more likely, though, that it was built by a Gallovidian lord. Records tell of these lords building castles in imitation of the incomers after they had evicted them from the region in the 1180s.


Highlight
  • The impressive mound – not easy trying to get to the summit.

Location

Region – Dumfries and Galloway

At Mochrum village on the A747.

Grid reference - NX 349 466.