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Motte (Medieval)

Site Name Helenton

Classification Motte (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Pow Burn; Helenton Mote

Canmore ID 41987

Site Number NS33SE 7

NGR NS 3931 3111

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council South Ayrshire
  • Parish Symington (Kyle And Carrick)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Kyle And Carrick
  • Former County Ayrshire

Archaeology Notes

NS33SE 7 3931 3111

(NS 3932 3111) Helenton Mote (NR)

OS 6" map (1967)

Helenton Mote is listed as a motte (G G Simpson, B Webster and G Stell 1970). It is described in the ONB (1856) as a small oval knoll, partly natural and partly artificial, rising suddenly to a height of about 30ft above the general surface. Smith notes a ditch on its S side; though the NSA (1845, J Dunlop) mentions a ruin on this mound, he could find no remains of it.

NSA 1845; Name Book 1856; J Smith 1895; G G Simpson, B Webster and G Stell 1970.

This is an almost square-topped mound measuring 14.5m by 12.5m. The top is considerably mutilated and its appearance is spoiled by tipping on and around it. Its height varies from 3.5m on the S to 6.0m on the E, where there is a ditch and outer bank. The ditch is 2.5m broad, bank 0.5m high on the counterscarp and 1.5m on the scarp slope. It is 4.0m

in breadth. On the NE a narrow drystone wall, 1.0m wide, bridges the ditch and is apparently quite old. If this was the approach to the motte in early times, there is now no sign of a road up to the top of it at this point. The motte is covered in trees and vegatation.

Visited by OS (JLD) 28 May 1954

Helenton Mote: name verified. This motte, prominently situated above the Pow Burn, had a probable circular base about 35m in overall diameter. The levelled top now measures some 14m E-W by 16m transversely. The W and S sides have been slightly truncated by a road and house develoment, but a probably original profile around the N and E sides shows no trace, or need, of an outer ditch; the steep sides fall away to low boggy ground by the burn. The ditch described on the E side by OS (JLD) is a fortuitous arrangement of a late and substantial bank, probably associated with nearby mill site, skirting around the motte and continuing to the S under a recent building stance. Smith's mention of a ditch on the S side appears feasible, as this is the lowest side, of easiest approach. On the top, and off-centre, is a circular earthen mound about 6m in diameter and 0.3m high. Its purpose is obscure and its relevance to the NSA account of a ruin is doubtful.

Helenton Mote house on the S side of the motte was built in the late 1960s.

Revised at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (JRL) 14 May 1982

This motte is situated on the edge of an escarpment overlooking the Pow Burn, 300m NNW of Helenton. It stands to a height of 8.5m on the E and 4.2 on the W, and its roughly square summit is up to 13.8m across. A mill pond, now dry, has been formed at the base of the mound on the N and E; it served Helenton Mill, which formerly stood 80m to the S. In 1839 it was recorded that a ruin stood upon the summit of the motte.

NSA 1845; Name Book 1856; OS 6-inch map, Ayrshire, 1st ed. (1860), sheet xxii; J Smith 1895; G Stell 1985; RCAHMS 1985, visited (IMS) April 1985.


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