Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mote of Annan, Annan

Mote of Annan
Dumfries and Galloway

Laying some 18 miles to the North West of Carlisle, and situated a few yards off the A75, Annan possesses the earthwork remains of what was the original seat of the de Brus, or Bruce family. The badly eroded motte and bailey castle is situated just off the aptly named Bruce Street, on the East banks of the River Annan, and is, sorry to say, a shadow of its former royal self. The River Annan has completely removed the Western half of the motte, turning it into a narrow ridge....much the same as at Tebay.

The photo above, shows the motte looking North. The river is on the left of the photo. The ditch surrounding the motte can still be seen.

The motte now stands to around fifty feet high, and, due to the damage caused by the River Annan over the years, the once round motte, is now around fifty feet by twenty feet at the summit. A broad ditch that separated the motte from the bailey, can still be seen, stretching some 270 feet to the South, and about three feet deep. The motte and the bailey were also probably surrounded by a deep ditch, but these have long since been destroyed by the river, and a certain amount of landscaping that has taken place here.

The photo above, shows the base of the motte looking North, from within the ditch.

The castle is believed to have been built during the early 12th century, by the de Brus (Bruce) family. It seems that it was occupied for a very short period of time, as by 1166 it is thought to have been abandoned in favour of more comfortable and dry accommodation at Lochmaben Old Castle. Because of Annan's connection with the Royal Bruce's, the town became a Royal Burgh, and as a result of its importance, and its position so close to the border with England....especially being only 18 miles from Carlisle, it was frequently attacked, occupied and used by the English in their campaigns against the Scots. After the motte was abandoned, it seems that the church became the strongest and most defensible building in Annan, being used by Edward I in 1299, for safely and securely storing arms and supplies. The church was destroyed in 1547 by Henry VIII's army, forcing the towns folk to build a new fortified tower, surrounded by ditches and wooden palisades. This fortification was built by Lord Herries in the early 1560's, and was reputedly large enough to hold a garrison of one hundred men with fifty horses. It was destroyed in an English attack in 1570, but rebuilt again in 1579 by Lord Maxwell. Unfortunately nothing now remains of this later fortification.

The motte and its grounds are open during daylight hours.

Many thanks to Neil MacInnes for the photos.

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