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Motte (12th Century)

Site Name Carnwath

Classification Motte (12th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Libberton

Canmore ID 47618

Site Number NS94NE 5

NGR NS 97466 46626

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council South Lanarkshire
  • Parish Carnwath
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Clydesdale
  • Former County Lanarkshire

Archaeology Notes

NS94NE 5 97466 46626

(NS 9746 4662) Mote (NR)

OS 6" map (1912)

The motte which stands on the golf-course was built by the 1st Baron Somerville, possibly in the early 14th century (information from O G S Crawford 9 November 1938).

G V Irving 1855; J Wilson 1936

A very fine motte measuring 40.0m in diameter at its base, 13.5m in diameter across the top and about 9.0m in height, surrounded by a well-defined ditch. A counterscarp bank on the south may be contemporary.

Revised at 25".

Visited by OS (EGC) 9 January 1968.


Field Visit (25 June 1943)

Mote, Carnwath.

Carnwath Mote stands just outside the W outskirts of the village, N of the Glasgow road. It consists of a truncated cone of sandy earth mixed with small stones, surrounded at its base by a ditch. The whole monument has been planted with trees.

The outline of the base, where it rises from the bottom of the ditch was established by means of a compass traverse, and appears on the plan (q.v.) as approximating fairly closely to a circle; the ‘diameter’ varies from 130 to 140 ft. The ditch is from 10ft to 12 ft wide at the bottom, and this, with the counterscarp of the ditch, gives a total diameter of 183 ft for the whole monument along the line of the section (q.v) which runs from just N of W to just S of E. There is now no sign of any mound on the counterscarp of the ditch, and it has no doubt been destroyed since the end of the 18th century (c.f. Stat. Acct., x, 335). The lower slopes of the mote-hill are very steep, 35° on the E and 36° on the W; but towards the top the gradient decreases noticeably. The summit-area if flat, oval in outline, and measures 47ft from N to S by 39ft from E to W. Near the centre is the hollow at the bottom of which it is recorded that a stair could once be seen descending into the mound (c.f. PSAS, xxiv, 288 and Stat. Acct. loc. cit.). The summit is 32ft above the bottom of the ditch on the W and 28ft above it on the E; the ground slopes naturally from E to W, but the greater depth of the ditch on the E side – 5ft 6ins as compared with 2ft on the W – goes some way towards equalizing those measurements (Photos).

Some damage has recently been done to the outer lip of the ditch by the digging of deep slit-trenches.

Visited by RCAHMS 25 June 1943.

OS map ref: xxvi NE

Publication Account (1985)

The matte at Carnwath, more correctly referred to as Libberton Motte as it originally lay in that parish, is the most impressive Norman earthwork to survive in Lanarkshire and can be viewed with advantage from the Carnwath-Carstairs road (A 70). It is a classic 'pudding basin' mound, circular on plan and rising with steep sides (now unfortunately planted with trees) to a level top, and surrounded by a ditch. For such a massive earthwork (9m in height), the summit area is surprisingly small, measuring a meagre 13.5m in diameter, only marginally larger than the comparatively slight matte at Coulter (no. 46).

The motte may have been built for William de Sommerville (died 1160), who came from Yorkshire to Libberton at the invitation of David I.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Clyde Estuary and Central Region’, (1985).


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