Scheduled Monument

Gilnockie Castle, earthwork NE of Gilnockie BridgeSM11996

Status: Designated

Documents

Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (https://portal.historicenvironment.scot/termsandconditions).

The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.

Summary

Date Added
26/03/2008
Type
Secular: earthwork; enclosure
Local Authority
Dumfries And Galloway
Parish
Canonbie
NGR
NY 38640 78223
Coordinates
338640, 578223

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a ringwork, probably of later medieval date, surviving as a bank and ditch cutting off a promontory in a bend of the River Esk at approximately 45m above sea level. It is located in mature deciduous woodland.

The interior of the enclosure measures approximately 60m by 35m. The promontory is cut off on its E side by a bank 7.5m wide and 1.8m high, an external ditch and a counterscarp. The modern road has cut through the S part of the site, and a small section of the earthwork survives to the south of this.

The area to be scheduled comprises two discrete parts - an area to the north of the modern road that is irregular on plan, and an area to the south of the modern road that is sub-rectangular on plan - to include the remains described and an area around in which associated remains may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes all above-ground elements of modern fences and telegraph poles, to allow for their maintenance.

Statement of National Importance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is an example of a later medieval ringwork, falling into the broader category of timber castles, with upstanding remains dating from the 12th to 14th centuries AD. There is a strong likelihood that archaeological deposits associated with the monument's construction, use and abandonment are well preserved.

The importance of Gilnockie Castle is enhanced by the fact that it may have been abandoned at an early date. The site has considerable potential to enhance understanding of medieval timber castles, their strategic and political importance and the daily lives of the people who occupied them. The site lies within what was the lordship of Annandale.

Contextual characteristics

Timber castles are a type of later medieval fortified site, now characterised through earthwork remains. They are important because they mark local centres of Anglo-Norman lordship during the feudalisation of Scotland. The castle's importance is also highlighted by the fact that it is the only ringwork in eastern Dumfries and Galloway.

This concentration of timber castles relates to, and may give insights into, the feudalisation of this part of Scotland. Indeed, the siting and distribution of timber castles in Dumfries and Galloway in general and Annandale in particular indicates that they had two main purposes. Their purpose was firstly to protect the lordship of Annandale from intrusions from Galloway and, secondly, the routeways through eastern Dumfries and Galloway into the rest of the kingdom.

Associative characteristics

David I installed Robert de Brus, Lord of Cleveland (ancestor of King Robert the Bruce), as Lord of Annandale in 1124. This was the first act of military feudalism in Scotland, designed to contain the Galwegians of Nithsdale and secure the route in to Clydesdale. Sites such as Gilnockie Castle represent the physical evidence of this Anglo-Norman presence and the process of feudalisation.

Gilnockie Castle may be identified with the caput of the barony of Bryntallone/Bretallach (later Canonbie). It is likely to have been abandoned at an early date, when its lands were given to the priory of Canonbie, which then became the estate centre.

Some writers have linked this monument to the Border Reiver Joh(n)nie Armstrong of Gilnockie, subject of the ballad of 'Johnie Armstrong' (sic), who was hanged by James V in 1530. Armstrong is said to have had a tower at the E end of Gilnockie Bridge. This theory remains unproven but the site retains significance for organisations such as the Clan Armstrong Trust, which is based at nearby Gilnockie Tower.

The monument is marked on all editions of the Ordnance Survey map as Gilnockie Castle.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular, the construction techniques and defences of, and domestic life within, a medieval timber castle. It may also shed light on the extent and nature of the feudalisation of Scotland, particularly the south-west of Scotland. The concentration of this monument type in Dumfries and Galloway may relate to the strategic nature of this process in this area and the particular role and influence of the Annandale Lordship. The site's rarity contributes much to its importance and its loss would impede our ability to understand the nature of medieval social and political processes in this area.

References

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the monument as NY37NE4, Gilnockie Castle, Earthwork Fortification; Dumfries and Galloway SMR as MDG7830, Gilnockie Castle, fortification, earthwork.

References:

Maxwell-Irving A M T 2000, THE BORDER TOWERS OF SCOTLAND: THEIR HISTORY AND ARCHITECTURE - THE WEST MARCH (DUMFRIESSHIRE AND EASTERN GALLOWAY), Stirling: Alastair M T Maxwell-Irving.

RCAHMS 1920, SEVENTH REPORT WITH INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTY OF DUMFRIES, Edinburgh, His Majesty's Stationery Office.

RCAHMS 1981, THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS OF EWESDALE AND LOWER ESKDALE, ANNANDALE AND ESKDALE DISTRICT, DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY REGION, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Scotland Series, Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

RCAHMS 1997, EASTERN DUMFRIESSHIRE: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE, Edinburgh: HMSO.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at www.historicenvironment.scot.

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

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Printed: 08/12/2021 19:27