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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 830209

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NY06NW 6 02548 65638.

For Old Caerlaverock Castle (NY 027 654), see NY06NW 7.

See also NY06NW 12.

(NY 0255 6561) Caerlaverock Castle (NR)

(NY 0251 6580) Gate (NR)

OS 1:10000 Map (1971)

Caerlaverock Castle, fully described in the DoE Guide (B H St J O' Neil 1952) was built about 1290, replacing that described on NY06NW 7.

There were only short breaks in occupation from then until its destruction in 1640, after a siege by Covenanters. Though it was slighted and rebuilt several times during that period, the later builders have followed the original design.

The castle can only be approached from the N. Here there is a rectangular outer courtyard on the slope of the hill; it is entered by a round-arched stone gateway of uncertain date at its NE corner. A low bank round the courtyard suggests that it may once have been defended. Triangular on plan, the castle has massive twin drum-towers and a backing keep or gatehouse at the apex, and circular flanking towers at the other two angles, that to the SW remaining entire. High curtain walls link these towers, enclosing a courtyard; subsidiary buildings have been erected against these walls by a wide moat, beyond which have been earthworks and outer ditches, some of which were modified to create defences during the 1640 siege.

Excavations have revealed remains of four successive timber bridges crossing the moat. Little of the S range of the castle remains, but elsewhere the building is, at least externally, mainly entire to the wallhead.

S Cruden 1956; 1959; 1960; 1963; J G Dunbar 1966; N Tranter 1970; A E Truckell and J Williams 1967

This castle is as described and illustrated by the previous authorities.

Visited by OS (EGC) 18 August 1965

3 fragments of medieval Pottery found while excavating in Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfriesshire, 18 years ago. Factor Lord Herries.

J Williams 1975.

NY 0255 6560 Excavation of a trial pit prior to the creation of a soakaway was monitored in October 1999. The trial pit was located in the W corner of the field to the E of the Guardianship area, and was up to 2.5m in depth.

The excavations indicated that the surface scarp noted in the field is the line of a raised beach. No deposits of archaeological significance were disturbed.

The subsequent programme of drainage improvements was carried out in late February 2000, again with archaeological monitoring. These works involved the machine-excavation of a trench 58m long with a depth ranging from 300-950mm.

In the area to the N of the car park excavations revealed a complex area of cobbling, demolished walls and late cuts. Examination of this group of features suggested the existence of a cobbled surface, complete with central surface drain, with a width E-W of almost 10m. The surface appeared to be bounded to the E and W by roughly built red sandstone walls, with the possible existence of a central wall just W of the surface drain. The cobbles were sealed by up to 500mm of demolition debris, mounded up in the E and centre of the structure, and lensing out to the E and W. A late drain appeared to be cut into the position of the E wall, while a wide depression-like cut filled with debris and redeposited natural lay over the W wall. The whole was sealed with between 100-250mm of topsoil.

There is clearly a substantial structure existing to the S of the cottages adjacent to the entrance archway which may have been partly removed by the new car park. The structure appears to be a large cobbled compound of some sort, aligned N-S, which may have had a perimeter wall and been unroofed. No slates or tiles were found in the demolition debris covering the floor levels. The surface drain seems to indicate that livestock may have been housed within the structure.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

D Stewart and P Sharman 2000

NY 025 656 Monitoring works at Caerlaverock Castle comprised the excavation of soakaway trenches in the grazed pasture field to the W of the Guardianship area, WSW of the visitor centre, and a hole for a septic tank to the SW of the toilet block. The monitoring of the soakaway trenches was undertaken on several visits during October, November and December 2001, and the excavation of the pit for the septic tank was monitored in January 2001.

This part of the Guardianship area has been used for dumping debris as well as for the creation of the car park. However, this material appears mostly to have sealed the surviving archaeology rather than destroying it, although it did stop the geophysical surveys from picking up the remains. The ditch cut also shows that archaeology survives below the pasture, despite it having been ploughed in the past. These are encouraging results for the survival of medieval remains in a superficially unpromising part of the monument.

A watching brief was also undertaken in the woods to the S of Caerlaverock Castle while trees were felled. There was no significant damage to the earthworks. The features recorded show that the earthworks in the wooded area of the Caerlaverock Estate are more complex and extensive than usually depicted. It may be possible, with further work, to identify which features are associated with the old castle, with the sieges, with water catchment and with later estate management, potentially including the use of the grounds as romantic pleasure gardens.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: HS

G Ewart and P Sharman 2002.

NY 025 656 Archaeological monitoring was undertaken in August 2004 while contractors hand-dug a telephone cable trench in the field to the N of the monument. Nothing of archaeological significance was seen in this long slit trench.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: HS.

D Stewart 2004

NY 0252 6582 Archaeological monitoring was undertaken in November 2004 while a post-hole was dug in the field to the N of the monument within the Guardianship area of Caerlaverock Castle (NY06NW 6). Nothing of archaeological significance was seen.

Archive to be deposited in NMRS.

Sponsor: HS

D Stewart 2005

NY 025 656 Reconnaissance coring of the sediments of the moat systems of Caerlaverock New Castle. The results of sediment coring within the outer moat are that the highly organic pond and peat sediments infilling the outer moat are interrupted by distinctive inwashed bands of grey minerogenic silty clays and clays. These are recorded up to 8.5 m OD. The data provisionally suggest that the outer moat may have been impacted by extreme marine flood events that were to at least this altitude, in the same way that the moat system at the Old Castle had been inundated. This interpretation remains tentative until definitive sediment- and bio-stratigraphic analyses can confirm the marine origin of the minerogenic sediments, but if confirmed would represent evidence for the most exceptional Medieval and post-Medieval marine inundation of all of the lower Lochar Valley.

R Tipping 2004

NY 025 656 Archaeological monitoring was undertaken during the digging of five trenches to establish the nature of the ground make-up to the N of the castle. This work was carried out in June 2006 in advance of the potential installation of a new drainage system. New drains were considered necessary since sustained periods of rain had been seen to leave areas waterlogged.

This trenching activity allowed a profile to be established in the proposed route of future drainage, and that there is a variation in the ground make-up from natural deposits to various road phases to modern landscaping. Partially revealed, unmortared masonry may be a reduced field wall. There were no other finds or features of archaeological significance.

Archive to be deposited in NMRS.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

Paul Fox and Thom Walley, 2006.

NY 025 656 Archaeological monitoring was undertaken in August 2006 during the digging of five small trenches to hold the poured-concrete foundations of new information boards. There were no finds or features of archaeological significance.

Archive to be deposited in NMRS.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

Angus Mackintosh, 2006.

NY 025 656 Archaeological monitoring was undertaken between 16-26 October 2006 while sub-contractors undertook

the excavation of two soakaways and two drainage channels alongside the current road and SE car parks. An additional day of monitoring was required during the removal of the road's subbase over a 56.4m section. During these works a field drain and wall were partially revealed. Neither feature was thought to be earlier than 18th-century in date.

Archive to be deposited with RCAHMS.

Funder: Historic Scotland.

Sarah Hogg, 2007.

NY 024 657 Archaeological monitoring was undertaken on 21 November 2006 during the excavation of a trench near the

visitor centre as part of works to replace an existing underground electricity cable. The works caused no disturbance to any previously undisturbed ground, and the trench ran through an area of much recent disturbance and landscaping. There were no finds or features of archaeological significance.

Archive to be deposited with RCAHMS.

Funder: Historic Scotland.

David Murray, 2007.

NY 025 656 A probable hoard of two EBA bronze axeheads, found in 1976 but not formally allocated to a museum service

at the time, was finally claimed as treasure trove in 2006 and allocated to Dumfries and Galloway Museums (Dumfries) (TT 94/06). Although published (Yates 1979), this discovery was too late for inclusion in Schmidt and Burgess's corpus of Bronze Age axes from Scotland and northern England (1981). In terms of their typology, the smaller axehead falls within the range of Migdale type axes, although its outline may have been modified by reworking and that it may originally have been larger. The larger axehead can be compared most closely in terms of overall shape, if not exact size, with axes of the Biggar variant of the Migdale type or among some decorated Migdale axes. In the light of these features, the hoard is likely to date to the later part of the Brithdir stage (2150-2000 BC) in Rohl and Needham's scheme outlining developments in Early Bronze Age.

T Cowie, 2007.

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