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Ingleston

Motte (Medieval)

Site Name Ingleston

Classification Motte (Medieval)

Canmore ID 64478

Site Number NX75NE 4

NGR NX 7748 5798

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/64478

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

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Kelton
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Stewartry
  • Former County Kirkcudbrightshire

Archaeology Notes

NX75NE 4 7748 5798.

(NX 7748 5798) Mote (NR)

OS 6" map (1914)

A motte formed from a rocky hillock, upwards of 18ft in height, the natural defences of which have been improved by scarping all round, and the flattening of projecting tongues to north and south. The top has been levelled.

Mediaeval finds from the site are in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS).

RCAHMS 1914, visited 1911; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1912

As described by RCAHMS. The flat top is entirely featureless.

Revised at 25".

Visited by OS (WDJ) 8 August 1968.

NX 774 579. The site is being examined due to severe rabbit burrowing erosion problems. The site was disturbed when an RAF aircraft crashed only two fields away from the excavation. In 1891 the dimensions of the motte were recorded as 23 x 16m, but in 1980 this had been reduced to 21 x 13m.

A 4m square trench was opened on the NE quadrant of the summit where no previous excavation had taken place, and ploughsoil was removed to a depth of 0.5m. Sherds of yellow-green glazed pottery, iron nails and some charcoal were recovered. A quantity of amethyst was also found, the use of which is not clear at this time.

Extensive evidence of burning was present and it is deduced that a timber tower surmounting the motte was burnt down in antiquity. The written sources lead us to believe that this occurred in 1185 when Roland of Galloway invaded and reoccupied his patrimony on the death of his uncle, Gilbert, murderer of his father.

The archive from this ongoing excavation is to be deposited with the Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright.

A Penman and E Cochrane 1997

NX 774 579 A second season of excavation by volunteers (Penman and Cochrane 1997) has yielded three main areas of note.

The N section of the trench yielded only a few artefacts, comprising bone, pottery and an as yet unidentified ferrous object which, due to their disposition, indicate that they were 'lost' by dispersal. The central section uncovered evidence of a linear stone feature cutting across it in an E?W direction. These postulated foundations of a stone wall provided a piece of broken millstone and a cuboid-shaped porphyry dyke block. As yet the purpose of this wall is unclear. The S extremity of the trench comprised dark, greasy soil indicative of burning and artefactual evidence, in the form of a large number of nails, charcoal and daub, strongly indicates that this is the edge of a timber structure which, it is speculated, was burnt down during either the AD 1174 civil war in Galloway or the AD 1185 takeover by Roland, son of Uchtred. The evidence from this context suggests that the timber structure may have been utilised as a dwelling with defensive architecture. Three pieces of amethyst, one being conjoined with daub, in addition to the large quantity of that mineral previously recovered on this site, infers that this semi-precious stone from the nearby Screel Burn was being used to decorate either the exterior or interior of the probable frontage of the timber structure.

A Penman and L Averill 1998.

NX 774 579 A third season of excavation on this site (see Penman and Averill 1998) has continued to produce evidence of destruction by fire during the latter part of the 12th century of a timber construction on the summit of this motte.

Large amounts of charcoal and greasy dark soil at the southern end of the trench continues to show that a large quantity of timber was burned here. Dating evidence in the form of sherds of the local green-glazed pottery of c 1150-1250 have been recoveredfrom the trench, along with a quantity of ferrous objects including a probable nail, 10.5cm in length and topped with a square head.

In the SE corner of the trench the section revealed some large stones. The trench was accordingly extended to the S, revealing a more complex matrix than at first appeared, with large stones overlapping each other.

A stone linear feature, cutting E-W across the centre of the trench, was removed and a time frame allocated to investigate the underlying archaeology. The trench is being extended northwards and volunteers will continue to excavate this site in the millennium.

A Penman and L Averil 1999

NX 774 579 A fourth season of excavation by volunteers opened with a survey of the site (DES 1999, 23-4), and continuing evidence was found for the destruction of a timber building on the summit of the motte. To date there is only evidence for one construction. A 6 x 2m sondage was opened to E of centre in the NE quadrant of the motte summit to determine the amount of damage done at this point, and 0.3m below the surface of the summit evidence of a number of post-holes was discovered.

Local galena-glazed pottery of 12th/13th-century date and iron nails were in evidence near the surface. A silver short-cross penny of the young King Henry III, minted by Ioan of Canterbury between 1217 and 1222, was found at the bottom of a large diameter post-hole in the SE corner of the sondage.

This coin was taken out of circulation in 1240 as it was no longer legal tender. This suggests that it was either dropped or deposited prior to that date, which points to occupancy of the site and the erection of a timber construction on the summit of the motte by one Sir William de Gevelstone, a Dreng from Cumbria who was invited into Galloway c 1217 by Alan, the last of the native Lords of Galloway, who reigned from 1200-34.

The sondage is being extended N and E and volunteers will continue to excavate this site.

A Penman and L Averill 2000

NX 774579 A fifth season of excavation by students and volunteers discovered further evidence for the destruction by fire of a small stone-based timber donjohn or tower (DES 2000, 20). This would appear to have happened on two separate occasions, with the structure being rebuilt after the first fire and then destroyed again. Prolific pottery evidence and a small blue glass bead from the floor of the later palimpsest building attests to its burning roof having collapsed onto the stone floor, depositing a layer of charcoal interspersed with nails and rivets on top of the artefacts. Under this level another lower area was excavated through another, earlier, layer of charcoal and nails, and it has been tentatively dated to c AD 1185. The artefactual evidence was not so obvious here although a few sherds of native green galena pottery were recovered from the bottom level. Two lines of post-holes at right-angles to each other attest to part of the interior layout of the later building, c AD 1235, which was dated previously by the discovery a short cross silver penny of King Henry III in one of the post-holes.

A trench was exposed on the northern slope of the motte and yielded evidence of two square stone-based towers. Between those was a gateway area with the post-holes of a hypothesised small guardroom abutting the most westerly tower base, and between it and the eastern base a double row of post-holes attested to the presence of a palisade comprising wicker walling infilled with cobbles and soil for consolidation. The angular stone bases of both gate towers contained very black charcoal-darkened soil and fragments of solidified molten lead and pottery.

Much of the earlier evidence on the edge of the motte was destroyed by collapse caused by prolific rabbit burrowing. Amongst the construction debris surviving was a large semi-circular piece of iron slag, pieces of solidified molten lead, as well as a wedge of decaying lead which was found close by, pointing to there having been some lead work on the roofs of the towers. No roofing stone was in evidence.

The natural level of the original summit of this feature was exposed, and the build-up of soil and shale layers to flatten the summit and consolidate the sides was examined for dating evidence. A bronze pin, in almost mint condition, was found in company with a few sherds of earlier medieval pottery of c AD 1150.

Sponsor: Dumfries and Galloway Council Community Fund.

A Penman and E J Penman 2002

NX 774 579 A sixth season of excavation by volunteers uncovered a continuation of the outer northern defences of this timber tower on the summit of the motte. The stone base, c 3.5 x 2.5m, of a second donjon or tower was discovered to the E of the one excavated during the previous season (DES 2002, 29).

Underneath the western tower base, evidence of earlier use of the site was produced in the form of several items of high-status value such as buckles; earlier pottery fragments were also recovered.

In spite of prolific rabbit burrowing it was possible to identify the remains of the palisade defences which ran between the two towers. These comprised a double fence of wattling, 0.5m apart, supported by stakes every 0.5m and infilled with rubble, including small boulders. The level between this feature and the remnants of the timber tower have yielded a prodigious quantity of pottery sherds, including some imported from the continent.

Evidence of an earlier occupied level was revealed to the N of this feature and can be dated from the pottery to the late 11th and early 12th centuries. Several fragments of bronze buckles, pieces of weaponry blades and part of an iron padlock were recovered from this earlier level. The usual layers of charcoal contained large numbers of iron nails, square in section, and iron rivets were also fairly prolific.

Excavating on the edge of the motte from N-E, evidence of an earlier trench was discovered containing a backfilled assortment of non-contexted medieval pottery sherds. This would appear to be the result of Fred Coles's rapid excavation. He found a metal padlock, which is described and illustrated in detail; part of a padlock found this season may well be the missing part of that found and reported upon by Curle (PSAS 1912, 189-200).

Further downhill, to the N of the defence line, a 'crooked sixpence' of the late 17th or early 18th century was recovered, testifying to a later use of the motte hill. This coin is of no direct relevance to the motte.

Downhill from the palisade, an amount of burnt timber may have been part of the timber tower, deposited as it fell downhill after destruction. Adjacent to this was a deep fire-pit which contained evidence of cooking, with fragments of calcined bone, wood charcoal, burnt clay, cinder and nails. A quantity of amethyst and quartz was in evidence just inside the line of the palisade.

Sponsor: Dumfries and Galloway Council.

E and A Penman 2003

NX 77 4 579 A seventh excavation season in 2004 revealed further evidence for the Dreng occupation of this site (NX75NE 4; DES 2003, 45-6).

A trench was opened on the eastern quadrant of the summit of the feature, and confirmation of the total destruction by fire on two separate occasions was again obvious. Large areas of burning were found between the outer defence line (timber palisading and stone-founded timber towers) and the bases of the timber towers.

A proliferation of iron rivet heads and square-headed nails point to evidence for the conflagration of a quantity of timber. Artefacts recovered in the shape of imported French pottery and local galenaglazed pottery confirm a date for this site, which would appear to have been finally abandoned c AD 1235-50. Quantities of amethyst continue to be found, along with a variety of smooth polished stones and other decorative pebbles, the use or representation of which is still not clear.

The remnants of a furnace were discovered on the northern perimeter of the site, which may have been of slightly later date. It could have been associated with the salvaging of metalwork from the destroyed fortifications. Continuing excavation of the timber defensive ring to the SE confirmed the presence of further palisading with additional, larger,

strengthening uprights which may suggest the presence of a postern gateway. The foundations of a second tower were dismantled, but other than a number of post-holes set into the stonework there was no further dating or constructional evidence. It is conjectured that the stone foundations of these towers had been set into a layer of clay on the perimeter of the summit of the motte hill.

Sponsor: Dumfries and Galloway Council.

A Penman, R McCubbin 2005

NX 77 4 579 An eighth season of excavation in 2005 exposed the remnants of a further section of the timber hilltop defences constructed by probable Dreng settlers in the early part of the 13th century. An earlier 12th-century timber tower construction appears to have been burnt down during the local rebellion of c AD 1185, and evidence of its presence underneath the later ruins would confirm this.

The remnant of the stone base of a timber tower was excavated and the natural level was found underneath, an area which had been subjected to intense heat. The remnant of a paved area between the tower and the defensive perimeter was uncovered. Dating evidence was found in the form of numerous sherds of local and imported pottery of the 12th/13th centuries. A number of clench nails (one in perfect condition) were recovered from the layers of charcoal

overlying part of the rubble from the tower. Part of a 13th-century bronze buckle was found over the paved area and two sherds of fancy pottery ware, one with incised decoration, point to imported goods of the same time. A number of stone-lined post-holes were exposed, pointing to either a re-use or a juxtaposition of some of the supporting timbers of the towers.

A smithying furnace on the northern perimeter of the motte hill, found during 2004 (see above), continued to be examined, and yielded pieces of slag and various metallic objects. The whole was sitting on top of sherds of local galena-glazed pottery. The furnace may have been employed in supplying iron material for the construction of the later of the two timber towers.

Continuing excavation following the line of the defences to the S of the founds of the stone-based timber towers has revealed the possible presence of a third stone-based defensive feature. Excavation will continue in 2006.

Sponsors: Dumfries & Galloway Antiquarian Society, Robert Kiln Trust.

A Penman, R McCubbin 2005

NX 774 579 A ninth season of excavation on private land by experienced diggers and selected student volunteers further exposed the outer defence line of this timber defensive tower site of the era of the Lords of Galloway (c AD 1100-1235). Evidence of the destruction by fire of a timber tower on at least two occasions was apparent. Although there is not so much burning evidence in the area of the pallisaded and towered defences encircling the summit of this site, it can be hypothesised that these were destroyed at the same time.

More evidence of a paved area between the tower base and the defence line was exposed and evidence of burning over this feature was observed. To date about 70% of the encircling defences have been excavated and on the outer side to the N, at a depth of 1.5 metres below the surface, there was evidence of a furnace overlying sherds of early medieval pottery.

Dating evidence has been recovered for two distinct phases of occupation below the artificial levels of the summit of the motte hill, signifying the destruction and rebuilding of the defensive feature c AD 1175-1235. Galena-glazed pottery, iron nails and rivet heads have been found in profusion in addition to a quantity of amethyst and items of polished quartz and granite in the shape of rounded cobbles.

Excavation of the defences and the remaining part of the timber tower will continue in 2007.

Sponsor: Dumfries and Galloway Council, Stewartry Area Commitee.

Robert McCubbin and Alastair Penman, 2006.

NX 774 579 A tenth season of excavation on private land was undertaken by experienced volunteer diggers and advanced students of the Stewartry Archaeological Trust, but due to the introduction of foot and mouth disease precautions the season had to be limited to only four weeks. Previous work has been reported in DES 1997, 24; 1998, 27/28; 1999, 23/24; 2000, 20; 2002, 29; 2003, 45; 2004, 45; 2005, 44. Excavation continued to expose the outer defence line of the timber tower built by the Lords of Galloway (AD 1100-1235), which was twice destroyed by fire. The defensive features were still apparent to the W side of the motte hill and a level of large flat stones used as paving between the tower and the timber defence line was apparent. This displayed evidence of intense heat. Almost 80% of the defensive encirclement has now been exposed and evidence of timber construction in the form of the identification of large numbers of fiddle key head nails has been observed and recorded.

Numerous sherds of local galena-glazed pottery of the period AD 1150-1300 have been recovered, interspersed with the

occasional sherd of finer ware emanating from Gaul. This suggests that at one stage this was a high status site.

Over the defensive level a series of furnacing features have been excavated, pointing to the possibility that some form of

smelting went on either between the two phases of the timber towers (c1174-85 and c1120-1235) or immediately after the final destruction by fire of the second tower.

A large furnace situated at a low level on the northern extremity of the motte hill was completely excavated and produced dating evidence for its operational life having been post-AD 1235, after the destruction by fire of the second timber tower. It must be presumed that it was used to salvage ironwork, etc, scavenged from the burned ruins of the motte hill defences.

Archive deposited with Dumfries and Galloway Council and deposited in the Stewartry Museum in Kirkcudbright.

Robert McCubbin and Alastair Penman, 2007.

Activities

Excavation (2007)

NX 774 579 A tenth season of excavation on private land was undertaken by experienced volunteer diggers and advanced students of the Stewartry Archaeological Trust, but due to the introduction of foot and mouth disease precautions the season had to be limited to only four weeks. Previous work has been reported in DES 1997, 24; 1998, 27/28; 1999, 23/24; 2000, 20; 2002, 29; 2003, 45; 2004, 45; 2005, 44. Excavation continued to expose the outer defence line of the timber tower built by the Lords of Galloway (AD 1100-1235), which was twice destroyed by fire. The defensive features were still apparent to the W side of the motte hill and a level of large flat stones used as paving between the tower and the timber defence line was apparent. This displayed evidence of intense heat. Almost 80% of the defensive encirclement has now been exposed and evidence of timber construction in the form of the identification of large numbers of fiddle key head nails has been observed and recorded.

Numerous sherds of local galena-glazed pottery of the period AD 1150-1300 have been recovered, interspersed with the occasional sherd of finer ware emanating from Gaul. This suggests that at one stage this was a high status site.

Over the defensive level a series of furnacing features have been excavated, pointing to the possibility that some form of smelting went on either between the two phases of the timber towers (c1174-85 and c1120-1235) or immediately after the final destruction by fire of the second tower.

A large furnace situated at a low level on the northern extremity of the motte hill was completely excavated and produced dating evidence for its operational life having been post-AD 1235, after the destruction by fire of the second timber tower. It must be presumed that it was used to salvage ironwork, etc, scavenged from the burned ruins of the motte hill defences.

Archive deposited with Dumfries and Galloway Council and deposited in the Stewartry Museum in Kirkcudbright.

Excavation (2008)

NX 774 579 An 11th season of excavation on the summit of the Motte Hill was undertaken by experienced volunteer diggers and advanced students of the Stewartry Archaeological Trust. Previous work has been reported in DES 1997, 24; 1998, 27/28; 1999, 23/24; 2000, 20; 2002, 29; 2003, 45; 2004, 45; 2005, 44; 2006, 50; 2007, 62.

Work has continued to the S and W perimeters of the motte and has revealed burnt timber construction and defence lines. These were highlighted by linear features consisting of iron nails and rivet heads from burnt timbers, along with charcoal, burnt clay and daub. Sherds of local galena-glaze pottery were also recorded. A double furnace on the SE perimeter of the summit was excavated and recorded and produced further fiddle-key head nails, glassy slag, furnace waste and evidence of a tuillère.

The remnants of a later timber tower were gradually uncovered in the form of burnt timbers and large quantities of iron nails. An area of possible flooring inside the tower showed some cobbling. Further excavation may reveal this feature’s mode of construction and there is some evidence to suggest the possibility that part of the tower base may have been of sill beam construction. Previous work determined that there were two timber towers on site, both destroyed by fire during the civil wars in Galloway between 1175 and 1234 AD.

S of the previous feature a cobbled area with a quantity of hammerscale indicated a possible area of smithying. An iron arrowhead was found next to this feature. Further excavation of the outer defence line has uncovered evidence of a third stone base for a small timber tower. An iron arrowhead was found on the perimeter of the northern defences. An iron spearhead, a broken loom weight and a spindle whorl were

recovered from the western perimeter of the summit.

Although the progress of the excavation has been adversely affected by record rainfall during 2008, the excavation is ongoing and further developments are expected next season.

Robert McCubbin and Alastair Penman (Stewartry Archaeological Trust), 2008

Excavation (2009)

NX 774 579 A 12th season of excavation on the summit of the Motte Hill was undertaken by experienced volunteer diggers and advanced students of the Stewartry Archaeological Trust. Previous work has been reported in DES 1997, 24; 1998, 27–28; 1999, 23/24; 2000, 29; 2003, 45; 2004, 45; 2005, 44; 2006, 50; 2007, 62; 2008, 52.

Work has continued on the NE end of the perimeter defences of the motte hill where the excavation levels have reached the burnt clay base of the original timber tower. This has revealed further evidence of fallen burnt

main support timbers in the form of charcoal and nails. An unstratified section of trench c1m wide has been

discovered and probably represents the excavation carried out by Coles in the latter years of the 19th century. Further examination of the southern and western perimeters of the summit of the motte hill have revealed an extension to the area of cobbling previously reported to the S of the earlier excavation. Important finds this season include a gilded bronze ring loop with screw and decoration in the form of animal heads at each end of the circle. A clench nail c80mm in length had been annealed by extreme heat and as a result was in almost perfect condition. Numerous iron nails, daub, charcoal, butchered animal bone and the local green galena glazed pottery of the type previously reported in DES 2008, 52 have been recovered from the later medieval layers. The progress of the excavation was drastically curtailed by the record rainfall of August and work will continue once the site has dried out.

Funder: Mrs Barbara Ellison and Stewartry Archaeological Consultancy

Robert McCubbin and Alastair Penman – Stewartry Archaeological Trust

Excavation (2010)

NX 774 579 A 13th season of excavation on the summit of the Motte Hill was undertaken by experienced volunteer diggers and advanced students. Previous work has been reported in DES 1997, 24; 1998, 27–28; 1999, 23–24; 2000, 29; 2003, 45; 2004, 45; 2005, 44; 2006, 50; 2007, 62; 2008, 52; 2009, 57–58.

Excavation has been largely completed on the NE perimeter defences of Motte Hill. The burnt clay level of the earlier timber tower has been uncovered and no further datable artefacts were apparent below this level. This season’s work concentrated upon extending the excavations on the summit and W and S perimeter of the Motte Hill. A hearth was uncovered close to the previously recorded cobbled area and this was excavated and recorded. A putative drain located close to the cobbled area was investigated, on the assumption that this could be a soakaway for the later tower. Postholes were also discovered surrounding a third stone founded tower base and further excavation next season will provide further information on the layout of the defensive timber towers on the summit of the Motte Hill. Artefacts recovered this season included a flint flake, further furnace slag, sherds of reduced greenware of local galena-glazed pottery, two further sherds of high status

pottery with patterned rims and a quantity of fiddle-key head iron nails.

Archive: The Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright

Funder: Dr Donna Moore and Calum Gilligan

Robert McCubbin, Liz and Alastair Penman – Stewartry Archaeological Trust

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