Monday, January 30, 2012

Campbelltown Mote, Nr Twynholm

Arden Campbelltown Mote
Nr Twynholm
Dumfries and Galloway

This small hill fort, about half a mile West of Twynholm, took me two visits to find, due to bad map reading and a general misunderstanding of the area. Once found though, I wasn't disapointed. What can be seen in the field by the road, is a small double ditched fort, measuring some 180 by 135 feet, with a summit of 95 by 55 feet. The views shown below, show the North side of the motte, quarried away and quite badly damaged.

Above. The North face of the motte, showing the quarry damage.

Looking at the surrounding fields, it's quite obvious why this site was chosen. It is built into an isolated hillock, with a height of around 22 feet. The summit has been fortified or strengthened with a stone wall or revetment, and there are at least two ditches providing further defence, though these have been quite badly eroded.

The motte is best viewed from the road side, where there is enough room to park your car. The gate was secured, so I'm not sure if access to the field is granted for viewing from other angles. To the North of the motte, and about a mile away, but visible from here, The Doon Hill can be seen.

The Doon Fort, Twynholm

The Doon Hill, 
Dumfries and Galloway

The Doon Hill can be found to the West of Twynholm, overlooking Twynholm motte and also Campbelltown Mote to the South. The fort can be seen from both the A75, just West of Twynholm, and also from the Arden road to the South, especially when stood at the foot of the Campbelltown Mote.

Above. View of the Doon Hill from the South.

From a distance, the tree covered hill is fairly inconspicuous, however, when viewed close up, there are still the feint signs of terraces, banks and ditches at the summit. The fort occupies a great defensive position....some 300 feet above sea level, and is one of a number of forts that stretches from Trostrie to the North, Campbelltown, Compstonend Castle Hill right down to another Doon Hill on the Northern shores of Kirkcudbright Bay.

Above. A close up view of the fort.

The summit of the fort measures around 82 by 78 feet. It is crowned by a central disc, defined by a slight earthen bank and the eroded remains of a further double trench and a single rampart. Only from this side of the fort, ie, the South, are the ditches and banks still visible. I'm not sure what the access rights are to the fort, but it can certainly be viewed from certain points around the village.

Twynholm Motte, Twynholm

Twynholm Motte
Dumfries and Galloway

It's taken three visits to this tiny village to find the motte, and now that I've finally discovered where it is, I can forgive myself for not finding it earlier. The motte is very badly damaged and so hidden from view as to be almost invisible. 

The motte lies to the North West of the church, hidden behind a line of cottages and shielded from view by a tin shed partially built into the side of the motte. A small wall has been built into the West side of the motte, to enable a path or track to circumnavigate the base of the mound.

Above. View of the motte from Kirk Brae.

The motte most likely dates from the late 1000s or early 1100s, and stands to a height of around 20 feet, and overlooks the Kirk Burn, for which it may have been built to guard a ford.

Above. Another view from Kirk Brae.

Above. View of the motte from across the gardens of the nearby cottages.

The motte summit measures around 47 by 38 feet, and has been truncated and damaged. In fact local documents tell us that the summit has, in the past, been used as a pet cemetery and a garden.

Above. View of the foot of the motte and the low wall built into the base.

The landlord family during the 13th century would have been the de Twynholms, headed by Walter de Twynholm, who was also Sheriff of Wigton and Chancellor and Clerk of Scotland in 1327 and was a confidante of King David of Scotland, regularly appearing in Royal records.