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Excavation of Scotland’s Mote of Urr Revisited

Friday, December 7, 2018

Scotland Mote of UrrDALBEATTIE, SCOTLAND—The Scotsman reports that the 1950s excavation of the Mote of Urr, a motte-and-bailey castle in Scotland’s Southern Uplands, has been published by a team of researchers from Guard Archaeology. The structure was first built in the late twelfth century and is thought to have been destroyed by fire. When it was rebuilt, a large, central stone-lined pit was dug for use as an oven, furnace, or kiln, and the hill, or motte, on which the structure stood was made taller and a double palisade was built to enclose its summit. The excavation team, led by artist and archaeologist Brian Hope-Taylor, also found traces of a trench and a timber bridge across the moat that surrounded the motte. In all, the castle was occupied for more than 200 years. “Urr was probably partly destroyed during the Wars of Independence in the early fourteenth century,” said Richard Oram of Stirling University, who researched the history of the site. “There is a large gap in the documentary record for the latter part of the fourteenth and first half of the fifteenth centuries, by which time the estate was being rented out to tenant farmers,” he said. To read in-depth about medieval British fortifications, go to “Inside the Anarchy.”

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