So far Annandale and Annan town had suffered for their proximity to the enemy
base at Carlisle, and Annan was the only place worth spoiling till one came to Dumfries.
But when the military occupation of the district began, a different use was made of
the town. Edward I. returned from his victory at Falkirk through Annandale,
coming over from Tibbers, and received the surrender of Lochmaben Castle. From
this stage Lochmaben is recognised as the strategic centre of Dumfriesshire, and its
accommodation is immediately extended and strengthened. Edward added a peel
or palisaded bailey and erected a tower, ¹ which enabled the place to hold out among
the very last in the War of Independence. The later stone fortress was accounted,
even in the 16th century, to be strong enough to withstand any assailants short of
"the hole armye of Scotlande." ² Possession of Lochmaben indeed was of cardinal
importance to an enemy. It could be supplied in a short land journey from Annan,
which in turn could draw upon the Cumberland ports, particularly Skimburness.
It was a nodal point or junction of roads, of that up Annandale and the more prac-
ticable route into Nithsdale. For between the lower Annan and the Nith dangerous
mosses straitened the ways, particularly the Lochar Moss, the black heart of which
still stretches northwards to beyond the town of Dumfries, and which must have
been an even more formidable obstacle in olden days than it would prove now. It then
effectively covered the approach to either Caerlaverock or the royal castle of Dumfries.
To both there were but two possible roads. One was at the southern end of the moss
from Annan by Cockpool and Bankend, but between the latter places it was carried
over the moss on a narrow artificial bank, which could be cut and rendered impractic-
able. ³ The other was by Lochmaben and Locharbriggs, ⁴ and this was clearly the safer
and more usual way. The castle of Dumfries was also accessible from the sea by the
River Nith. ⁵ Probably the mote of Castledykes on the Dumfries side and that of
Troqueer in the Stewartry on the other, mark an ancient ferry, ⁶ as did the twin
castles of York. But south and west of Caerlaverock even the sea was held at arm's
length by half-drowned and water-logged land. ⁷ Intrinsically the castle thus owed
its importance to its strong defensive position, and its consequent capacity for annoy-
ance to hostile neighbours. It was within easy striking distance of Lochmaben, and
to have Lochmaben garrison in comfort Caerlaverock must be reduced. ⁸ Also a hostile
force operating across the Nith in Galloway might be liable to its attentions. It is
as an incident in such a campaign that Caerlaverock fell easily to Edward's assault
in the summer of 1300.
At the port of Annan the oldest defensive post was the 12th-century mote-castle
of the Bruces; when a supplement to this was sought, it was found in the steeple of
the church, and here, in 1299, Edward I. was having victuals stored against a possible
attack by Robert Bruce. ⁹ In 1547 the steeple, which had but one storey above the
basement, was regularly besieged, captured, and razed to the ground by an English
force. ¹⁰ More elaborate defensive works were undertaken by Lord Herries less than
twenty years after. The year 1565 saw Annan equipped with "a fair tower, able to

1 See Art. 443, and Bain's Calendar, ii. No. 1112, p. 535.
2 Armstrong's Liddesdale, App. lxx. p. cxiii.
3 State Papers, Henry Viii., vol. v. part iv. (contd.), p. 554.
4 Armstrong, App. lxx. p. cx.
5 Bain's Calendar, iii. pp. 283-4; Armstrong, App. lxx. p. cx.
6 Cf. Shirley's Growth of a Scottish Burgh, p. 13.
7 State Papers, etc., v. part iv. (contd.), p. 554.
8 Bain's Calendar, ii. p. 535.
9 Ibid., ii. p. 284.
10 Calendar Scottish Papers, i. pp. 19-20. Cf. p. lxiv.

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