Notes: Motte is found 1.5 miles south-west of Bigger off the A72. Turn onto Cormishton Road and you will see the mound on your right after around 100 metres. There is a small lay-by.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
The motte still stands to a good height (around 3 metres) but its proximity to a modern road and buildings has reduced its visual impact. Furthermore trees have blocked off the view to the river. Nevertheless the site remains a good example of a motte and is well worth a visit.
Visitors Are Welcome…but not by these rams who insisted on stomping their feet for the entirely duration of my visit! The Flemish settler that originally founded Coulter was probably a sheep farmer himself.
Coulter Motte, also known as Wolfclyde Motte, was built in the twelfth century probably by a Flemish sheep farmer 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.
HISTORY OF COULTER MOTTE
Coulter Motte (also known as Wolfclyde Motte due to the adjacent hamlet) was raised in the mid-twelfth century although who built it is unknown. During the reign of David I of Scotland (1124-53), Norman immigrants were encouraged to settle in Scotland; the King saw this as a means of bringing the 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. 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 dominated by the modern farm, and would have included all the ancillary buildings associated with such a settlement including kitchen, stables, brewhouse and bakehouse. The site was located adjacent to a loop in the River Clyde giving the site a military purpose for the waterway would have been a major means of communication and movement through Clydesdale.
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 they were abandoned within decades of being built. The site may well have continued in operation as a farmstead and indeed remains a functional farm today.