Coulter Motte, also known as Wolfclyde Motte, was built in the twelfth century probably by a Flemming immigrant who had been granted lands by Malcolm IV. Little is known about the structure but it was situated on the banks of the River Clyde, an important communication route in medieval Scotland, and was probably only occupied for a short period.
Coulter Motte (also known as Wolfclyde Motte due to the adjacent hamlet) was raised in the mid-twelfth century to control a portion of the River Clyde, once a key means of movement throughout the region. Precisely who built the castle is unknown but is generally assumed to have been a continental immigrant. During the reign of David I (1124-53), Norman immigrants were encouraged to settle in Scotland as the King saw this as a means of bringing his unruly country firmly under his rule. Further immigration, particularly of Flemish origin, followed during the reign of Malcolm IV (1153-65). Both groups brought their castle building skills with them and constructed fortifications in their allocated territories. It is known that Malcolm IV settled many of the Flemish immigrants in Clydesdale and so it seems likely Coulter Motte was built by one of them.
Little is known about the structure itself. The motte was presumably topped by a timber tower or palisade and surrounded by a ditch. A bailey was situated on the south-eastern side of the motte, now occupied by the modern farm buildings. The bailey would have included all the ancillary buildings associated with such a settlement including a kitchen, stables, brewhouse and bakehouse.
The defensive features at Coulter do not seem to have been maintained for long. There is no evidence they were ever rebuilt in stone suggesting abandonment within decades of being built. The site probably continued in operation as a farmstead even after the castle was decommissioned and it remains a functional farm today.
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Dargie, R.L.C (2004). Scottish Castles and Fortifications. GW Publishing, Thatcham.
Simpson, W.D (1959). Scottish Castles - An introduction to the Castles of Scotland. HM Stationery Office, Edinburgh.
Tabraham, C (2000). Scottish Castles and Fortifications. Historic Scotland, Haddington.
Coulter Motte is a superb example of a motte and still stands to a good height (around three metres). Its proximity to a modern road and buildings has reduced its visual impact and the view to the river is wooded.
Coulter Motte. The motte still stands three metres tall.
Motte. The motte would originally have been topped by a timber tower and/or timber palisade.
Motte Summit. The view from the summit. The River Clyde is to the right (hidden behind the trees). The bailey would have extended towards the buildings in the centre-left.
Historic Scotland. The motte is in the care of Historic Scotland but remains in the centre of a working sheep farm. The Flemish settler that originally founded Coulter was probably a sheep farmer himself.