Stirling Observer

Signs point to historic village motte

Efforts by heritage group

- KAIYA MARJORIBAN­KS

Balfron Heritage Group has been working to alert locals to one of the village’s most historic spots Woodend Motte - in recent weeks.

A motte was an earth mound, forming a defensible raised platform on which a tower - a keep - could be built. The earth for the motte would be taken from around its own base, forming a deep ditch, aiding the builders’ ability to defend.

Through the local community council, a request came from Historic Environmen­t Scotland to alert locals and visitors alike to the protected status on the medieval Woodend Motte on the outskirts of Balfron.

Also known locally as the ‘Roman Camp’, it has given the name Roman Road to the route between the motte and Balfron High School.

Nowadays, this Scheduled Monument appears as a clump of trees on a hillock at the east side of the village but it was, in fact, an important earthwork fortificat­ion. It probably played a major surveillan­ce role when a breakaway group of Norsemen left the 1263 Battle of Largs planning a raid on Stirling Castle via Loch Long, Loch Lomond and the Endrick and Forth valleys.

Evidence of this raid not only appears in the historic document King Haakon’s Saga but, like so many ‘visitors’ today, the Vikings were so attracted to Loch Lomond that some settled there - as evidenced by the typical hogback gravestone in Luss graveyard.

Balfron Heritage Group has designed new signage to be placed adjacent to the motte.

Spokespers­on Jim Thomson said: “We thought this was an opportunit­y not only to alert people to the scheduled status of the motte but to give some informatio­n about it through an unobtrusiv­e interpreta­tion board.

“We also commission­ed an image of how the motte would look in a contempora­ry setting.

“Of course, the original motte would have been much larger than the one shown but this best shows it in its current location.”

Postcards of the image were delivered to the neighbouri­ng modern housing developmen­t and also distribute­d to members of the group.

A poster version has been gifted to Balfron Primary pupils who study the historic feature as part of their people, past events and societies studies in school.

 ??  ?? Evidence The hogback gravestone in Luss graveyard
Evidence The hogback gravestone in Luss graveyard
 ??  ?? Green place Woodend Motte in Balfron
Green place Woodend Motte in Balfron

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