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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 731826

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NY38NE 4 3525 8776.

(NY 3525 8776) Barntalloch Castle (NR) (Site of)

OS 6" map (1957)

The original feature at this site is a motte and bailey erected by Galfrid or Geoffrey de Coningsburgh in the second half of the 12th century. The site is defended by cliffs overlooking the River Esk on the S, and a deep glen cut by Staplegordon Burn on the E. A ditch, 40ft wide and 9ft deep, cuts off the promontory, an area which today measures 100ft by 80ft, having been reduced by erosion. The material from the ditch has been used to level the promontory. Outwith the ditch, a large area of level ground was enclosed by a rampart and palisade, forming a bailey.

The de Coningsburgh family disappears about 1280, and Sir John Lindsay, Chamberlain of Scotland, had acquired the land by 1285. Perhaps it was he, rather than the former, who erected a stone castle on the motte; it was then known as Barntalloch Castle.

Chalmers (G Chalmers 1890) records the tradition that it was 'of round form' and Reid states that it has long ago fallen into the river and been swept away. The RCAHMS, however, note foundations, in the SW angle of the motte, 3 3/4ft thick, of a rectangular building 20ft broad, believed to be the remains of a later tower. Above the ditch of the motte is a mound which appears to contain stone work, possibly connected with the tower, and there are traces of a parapet mound along the N face.

There is now no trace of the early burgh of Staplegorton, associated with this castle, for which see NY38NE 27.

R C Reid 1954; RCAHMS 1920, visited 1912

The remains of Barntalloch Castle are generally as described above. The motte is 1.7m above the ditch bottom and the bailey 1.0m. The N angle of a structure on the motte survives to a height of 0.7m, and a small shallow pit about 2.0m in diameter and of unknown date and purpose lies on the south side of the motte, otherwise the level top is featureless. Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (JB) 2 October 1979.

A steep-sided promontory 120m SSE of Staplegordon burial-ground (NY38NE 2) has been cut off by a ditch (12m broad) to form a motte (27m by 21m) which has a fragment of mortared masonry on its leading edge. On the W there is a bailey (51m by 42m).

RCAHMS 1981, visited November 1980.

This motte-and-bailey castle is situated on a steep-sided promontory 120m SSE of Staplegordon burial-ground (NY38NE 2). The motte has been formed from the E tip of the promontory and is defended on the W by a ditch up to 12.5m broad.; the triangular top of the motte measures 27m from ESE to WNW by 26m transversely and a fragment of mortared masonry is visible on its leading (W) edge.

The bailey lies to the W and measures up to 57m from NE to SW by 37m transversely internally. It is defended on the S by the steep natural drop down to the river, but on the N and W there is a low rampart which has been spread up to 4m in thickness; the flanks of the promontory appear to have been scarped down to the level of the terrace that can be traced along the foot of the slope. The entrance to the bailey lies on the W but access to the motte may have been provided by a timber bridge spanning the ditch at the NE corner of the bailey, opposite which there is slight evidence of an entrance-way leading up to the summit.

The interior of the bailey has been cultivated, and traces of rig-and-furrow cultivation, culminating in a plough-scar, encroach on the foot of the bailey, on the N.

Visited by RCAHMS (IMS, PC, SH), June 1991.

Listed as Staplegordon, motte-and-bailey.

RCAHMS 1997.

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