dumfries-1920/04-101

Transcription

CAERLAVEROCK.] INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS IN DUMFRIESSHIRE. [CAERLAVEROCK.

Constable of Carlaverock "was now set on the
great tower at Lochmaben." This experience
just precedes what constitutes the best known
and most remarkable episode of the castle's
existence - the siege of July 10-11, 1300,
directed by Edward I. in person. This
episode was made the subject of a contem-
porary poem, Le Siege de Karlaverok, in which
details are given of the blazoning of arms
of each of the 87 English "companions"
or leading knights. This number of knights-
banneret implies something under 2000 lances;
the poem gives 3000; but even the smaller
number is probably over the mark. The
army was, of course, a field army for a cam-
paign and the siege merely an incident in the
operations. Edward arrived before the place
on the 10th July, to find that the garrison
were in mind to offer a stout resistance. He
had to summon his siege-engines, some by ship,
some from Lochmaben Castle, and with their
battering the castle was reduced. The garri-
son numbered only sixty survivors, but they
had inflicted severe losses in men and horses
upon their assailants, with apparently small
loss to themselves. Walter Benechafe, the
constable, and "eleven other Scots, his
fellows," were sent to prison at Newcastle.
Edward was back at Dumfries on the 16th.
The chief interest is in the description of
the castle and its position. In shape the
building was like a shield (Com uns escus
estoit de taille); that is, triangular, like the
"heater" shield of the time, for, it is ex-
plained, "it had only three sides round
about, and in each angle a tower; but one
of these (towers) was double, so high, so long,
and so large that underneath was the gate
with a drawbridge well-made and strong, and
other defences in sufficiency. it had good
walls and good ditches, quite full to the
brink of water." On the situation of the
castle, there is this: It was beautiful, "for on
one side, towards the west, could be seen the
Irish sea (the Solway), and to the north a fair
country surrounded by an arm of the sea, so
that on two sides no creature living could
approach it without putting himself in danger
of the sea. Nor is it easy to the south, for the
many ways are made difficult by wood, by
marsh, and by trenches filled by the sea
where it is wont to meet the river (trenchies
La ou la mere les a cerchies Ou seult la riviere

encontrer); and, therefore, it was necessary
for the army to come towards the east, where
the hill slopes."
This description of the site is fairly general,
and, as the castles are but a few hundred
yards apart, is thus applicable to either.
Similarly the description of the castle itself
quite suits the present building, but that may
have been constructed on the lines of the
older one, the site of which is lozenge-shaped.
The tests are not decisive: the first requisite
is excavation of the site to determine the
ground plan of the structure; the work on it
alluded to above (p. 11) appears to have been
of a random nature.
Another contemporary chronicler, describ-
ing this campaign, speaks of its only result
as the capture of a "poor little castle" (povere
chastelet, Langtoft).
Caerlaverock was one of the castles seized by
Robert Bruce after the murder of Comyn in
February 1306, but soon recovered by the
English. At the close of May in that year
there was a garrison in the castle of eight
men-at-arms and twenty foot archers. In
1312 the castle is still in English possession,
with Sir Eustace Maxwell as keeper. Caer-
laverock was the principal seat of that family.
Sir Eustace turned to the national side, with
the result that the castle had again to suffer
a short siege, which, however, was unsuccess-
ful. In the end the castle suffered the fate
which Bruce had determined upon for such
fortresses; it was levelled to the ground (pro
fractione et pro prostratione castri de Carlaverok
ad terram), and its owner, Eustace Maxwell,
received compensation in reduction of the
annual of £22 sterling, due to the Crown for
these lands, to £12. ¹ This is the first destruc-
tion, but how far these destructions went is
problematical.
Caerlaverock was probably reconstructed,
with other important castles in Scotland,
during the English occupation under Edward
III. The Maxwell of the time, Sir Herbert, a
nephew of Sir Eustace, made his submission
to that King, and surrendered the castle to
English keeping in 1347; but early in 1356
it was besieged and captured for the Scots by
Sir Roger de Kirkpatrick, who levelled it to
the ground (ad solum prostravit). ² This is
the second destruction.
Apparently in the early part of the 15th

-- 23

  Transcribers who have contributed to this page.

valrsl- Moderator

  Location information for this page.

We're working hard to make our services better for you. While we're doing some essential maintenance, this website – or parts of it – might be intermittently unavailable at times between Monday 18 – Monday 25 November. Thank you for your patience.