The well preserved earthwork remains of a motte-and-bailey castle situated adjacent to the River Clyde. The bailey rampart and motte are both fully accessible. Sturdy footwear is essential.
NO OFFICIAL SITE
Stile. The access to the castle can be found opposite the lay-by. Sturdy footwear is recommended!
Notes: No signs but site is easily found immediately to the east of the A702 near its intersection with the M74 at Junction 13. There is a lay-by on the eastbound side with the access to the site being via a stile on the other side of the road.
The earthworks of Abington Castle are a well preserved example of a motte-and-bailey fortification. Built on the banks of the River Clyde and occupying a commanding position of Watling Street, unfortunately little is known about the castle’s history and it seems likely the structure had a fairly short life span.
HISTORY OF NETHER ABINGTON CASTLE
It is not known who built Abington Castle but it probably dates from the twelfth century during the reign of David I of Scotland (1124-53). At this time Norman and Flemish immigrants were encouraged to come north to settle; the King saw this as a means of bringing the country firmly under his rule. They brought their castle building skills with them and constructed fortifications in their allocated territories. One name connected to the area is Baldwin of Biggar who was appointed by David I as Sheriff of Lanark and Clydesdale. He granted lands to his stepson, John, who would go on to establish a castle and settlement at Crawfordjohn. It is possible Abington was a precursor to this. Alternatively it could have been raised by another Flemish/foreign immigrant encouraged by Baldwin to settle in the area.
Notwithstanding the options detailed above, it is also possible the castle could have been raised as late the thirteenth century/early fourteenth century during the Wars of Scottish Independence. Situated on the route of the Roman Watling Street, still in use in medieval times (and today as the line of the M74 follows it!), this was a strategic site. Some support for this theory is drawn from the discovery nearby of English pennies from the reigns of Edward I and Edward II.
The castle itself is a well preserved example of a motte-and-bailey and was sited to dominate the River Clyde, a major trading artery in the medieval period as well as being a source of natural resources, and was also in close proximity to the main route north via the old Roman Watling Street. The motte, which was seemingly built over an earlier burial mound, stands over 5 metres tall and was probably topped by a timber tower. To the north and west of the motte was a large, almost crescent shaped bailey which was surrounded by a ditch on all sides bar the east (where the river made it superfluous). Today only earthworks remain but the site would also have been protected by a wooden palisade. A monument to a local postmaster and fisherman, Matthew McKendrick, was built after his death in 1926.