Notes: Follow the A747 to Mochram after which you will see signs to ‘Drumtag Motehill’. Effectively keep following the main road through Mochram after around 100 metres. On-road parking is just about possible.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
A medieval motte standing alone without any further earthworks. The height of the mound is an impressive 6 metres and the opportunity for the visitor to climb the motte aided only by a rope gives a good idea of how effective this form of defensive structure was!
1. Druchtag Motte was one of the first historic castles in Scotland to be taken into State care to ensure its preservation. A sketch of the Motte was included in the associated papers that were drawn up by Lieutenant General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers. He had been appointed Her Majesties first Inspector of Ancient Monuments in 1883.
2. As impressive as Druchtag Motte is, Galloway also boasts numerous other such structures. Perhaps the best preserved is the Motte of Urr near Castle Douglas.
Still an impressive six metres high, Druchtag Motte is a classic example of a Norman fortification. Its builders are unknown and unusually no bailey has yet been discovered but its state of preservation has ensured historical significance leading to it becoming one of the first castles to be taken into State care as an ancient monument.
HISTORY OF DRUCHTAG MOTTE
One of around 250 such fortifications built in Scotland, Druchtag is a classic example of a Norman Motte which still stands in excess of 6 metres high and remains surrounded by a deep ditch. However, despite its traditional configuration, the mound has never been excavated and thus very little is known about it. The structure could have been built by Norman settlers, it could have been the work of an agent of the King or even a local Galloway landowner acting on his own initiative. Alternatively it could even have been built by the English during the Wars of Scottish independence.
During the reign of David I of Scotland (1124-53), Normans were encouraged to come north to settle; the King saw this as a means bringing the country firmly under his rule. They brought their castle building skills with them and constructed fortifications in their allocated territories - for example at Dundonald which was granted to Walter FitzAlan. Druchtag then could have been built by a Norman immigrant.
Notwithstanding its seemingly Norman pedigree, it is possible that the Motte was built by the Scottish themselves. Following the death of King David, the Normans became less welcome within Scotland and by the twelfth century they had largely been evicted. Nevertheless the native Scots imitated the castle designs building their own Motte-and_Bailey structures. Two options exist here - it was either built by a loyal magnate to the Crown who had been granted land within the troublesome Galloway region in an attempt to stabilise the area under the Scottish King's control or it was constructed by a Gallovidian Lord seeking to cement his power against the same.
A final option is the Motte could have been built as late the thirteenth century/early fourteenth century during the wars of Scottish Independence. As the forces of Edward I - and later Edward III - sought to conqueror Scotland, some traditional Motte-and-Bailey fortifications were thrown up to provide defence to the invading army. However, as there is no evidence of a bailey associated with the mound, this would seemingly rule out such an origin.
The years in which Druchtag were in use seem to have been limited. There is no evidence the structure was ever rebuilt in stone suggesting it was abandoned within decades of being built. Despite this the importance of the mound was recognised by Victorian historians and in 1888 Druchtag Motte became one of the first Scottish monuments to be taken into State care in order to ensure its preservation. Today it is well worth a visit for the Motte remains at its original Norman height and the lack of any stairs to the summit - just a rope to pull yourself up - is a superb indication of the defensive capabilities of his type of fortification.