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Motte (Medieval)

Site Name Dinvin

Classification Motte (Medieval)

Canmore ID 62643

Site Number NX29SW 1

NGR NX 20028 93174

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council South Ayrshire
  • Parish Girvan
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Kyle And Carrick
  • Former County Ayrshire

Archaeology Notes

NX29SW 1 2002 9319.

(NX 200 931) Dinvin (NAT)

Mote (NR)

OS 6" map (1957)

Dinvin is one of the best preserved mottes in Scotland, consisting of an oval mound surrounded by a double rampart with internal ditches, the inner rampart being particularly strong and well preserved.

The mound stands 3m to 4m high above the base of the ditch, its sides being steeply scarped; and the summit measures 28m by 19m sloping gently down to the entrance on the east which is approched by a ramp. Christison notes a stone wall bounding three sides of the summit on the west and there is a faint suggestion of a wall just before the slope to the entrance begins (visited by OS (JD) 7 October 1955). The inner rampart stands 3m to 4m above the outer ditch and the outer rampart 1m to 2.4m above the ground outside with which it merges. The ditches are from 1.8m to 3m broad. There are breaks in both ramparts on the west and in the inner rampart on the north. Several large stones lie in the inner ditch.

D Christison 1893; R W Cochran-Patrick 1880; RCAHMS TS, 12 May 1953

This motte, in good condition, is generally as described.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (SFS) 29 January 1976

No change to previous field report.

Visited by OS (JRL) 21 April 1977

Visible on CUCAP aerial photographs taken in 1955, 1973, 1976 and 1977.


Field Visit (12 May 1953)

This site was included within the RCAHMS Marginal Land Survey (1950-1962), an unpublished rescue project. Site descriptions, organised by county, are available to view online - see the searchable PDF in 'Digital Items'. These vary from short notes, to lengthy and full descriptions. Contemporary plane-table surveys and inked drawings, where available, can be viewed online in most cases - see 'Digital Images'. The original typecripts, notebooks and drawings can also be viewed in the RCAHMS search room.

Information from RCAHMS (GFG) 19 July 2013.

Field Visit (June 1982)

Dinvin NX 200 931 NX29SW 1

This motte occupies a commanding position on a hilltop 600m SE of Pinmacher and stands to a height of up to 7.5m within double ditches and external banks; a causeway spans the inner ditch on the ESE.

RCAHMS 1983, visited June 1982

(Cochran-Patrick 1880; Christison 1893, 394-5).

Publication Account (1985)

The motte at Dinvin is the most striking and best preserved medieval earthwork in southern Scotland. It is built on a massive scale and far surpasses the other mottes to be found nearby. The outer defences consist of two large U-shaped ditches accompanied by external banks, the crests of which are up to 4m above the bottoms of the ditches. At the centre, and making maximum use of the slope of the hill, the oval mound rises to a height of 4m above the bottom of the inner ditch and measures 28m by 19m. Instead of the more usual flying bridge, the motte was entered via a ramp from the east, approached by a causeway which leads somewhat obliquely through the ditches and banks. For such a massively defended site, the internal area is comparatively small and it is disappointing that the motte is not accompanied by any trace of a bailey. For many years the scale of the defences led scholars to believe that the site was of iron-age date, and such a view was reinforced by the very name Dinvin, with the Celtic element dun suggesting a forltified site.

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


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