The project launches: Join Us for Survey of Dumfries’ Royal Castle on Friday 7th September


To celebrate the ‘official’ launch of Discovering Dumfries and Galloway’s Past, we are pleased to announce that we will be running a day of geophysical survey in Castledykes Park, Dumfries on Friday 7th September, running 10am to 4pm.

This is a free event. No booking is required – just drop in and join in! You will receive full training in how to use the equipment to ‘see beneath the ground’.

Dumfries and Galloway Council archaeologist Andrew Nicholson will be joining us, offering visitors a guided tour through the park to explore its earthworks. Who knows – you might even spot a Medieval knight?

A bit of background
Survey will be focused on the top of ‘Castle Hill’ very close to the Glencaple Road entrance to the park. This substantial earthwork is the site of Dumfries’ Royal Castle. The castle was built in 1185, and was strengthened in the 1260s, and again by Edward I in 1300, when the great ditch was dug and the earthwork was enclosed with a wooden palisade. The castle was seized by Robert Bruce in 1306 after he murdered John Comyn at Greyfriars in Dumfries, but held for only three weeks. It was surrendered to Bruce again in 1313 by Sir Dugal M’Doual, and was one of the castles in southern Scotland whose slighting was ordered on the release of David II in 1357. It was described as still ruinous two centuries later and appears to have never been rebuilt.

Over the other side of Castledykes Park stands ‘Paradise Motte’, the site of an earlier castle, probably erected about 1173 by William I of Scotland (‘The Lion’).

How geophysical survey can help

By carrying out a small survey on the top of the mound, we are hoping to add detail to what may once have stood on this spot. A few small trenches have previously been excavated on top of Castle Hill, and they recorded a few bits of wall as well as some Medieval pottery.

Resistivity survey will be used. This technique is very good at mapping buried walls – so we hope to get a better idea of the plan of buildings on top of the mound. These could be related to the stone-built castle, or to the ‘Chapel of Our Lady of Castledykes’ which later sat on this site.

For more information, please contact Giles on 01387 702056 or giles.carey@glasgow.ac.uk

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