Motte of Urr

Although it dominates the surrounding landscape, this earthwork is easy to miss, even when driving past it.

Motte of Urr is a motte and bailey construction from the 12th century. These were typically raised earthworks, with deep ditches around them, creating a strong defensive enclosure. The top section would be surrounded by a wooden fence, with stone or wooden building within.

Occasionally known as The King's Mount, it sits on the west side of the River Urr. There is evidence from early maps that the river was at one point divided in order to surround the motte.

Motte of Urr is said to be the most extensive motte and bailey castle in Scotland.

It is believed to have been built by Walter de Berkeley some time after 1165, as detailed in a rare charter detailing the grant of lands in the surrounding areas by William I.

Excavations by Hope-Taylor in 1951 and 1953 have shown a wooden tower in the middle of the motte. A fire around 1170 destroyed much of the motte but it was rebuilt with 2 metre of earth added to the top section. Finds of coins and pottery show there were occupants until the 14th century.

Around 1456 the motte makes it's first documented appearance in the Exchequer Rolls as a farmstead.


From the B794 the Motte is visible. Park in the nearby lay-by. Do not attempt to drive up to the Motte through the ford – it is too deep for cars!

On foot, turn left before the ford and follow the grass path parallel to the motte and river. Use the foot bridge to cross the River Urr

The earthworks form part of an active farm, so there may be livestock in the fields.


Town/Village Haugh of Urr, near Dalbeattie
Region Dumfries & Galloway
Country Scotland
Grid Reference NX 81526
Longitude -3.851983
Latitude 54.962620