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Lanark Castle

Lanark Castle is but a shade of its former self.  Gone are the days when it was the focal point of the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire.

 It is difficult to visualize what the Medieval Castle at Lanark was like because of the effect of making the Castlehill Bowling Green in the late eighteenth century.  Originally Lanark probably had a motte and bailey castle, of which only part of motte or pudding shaped mound survives.  This pudding shaped mound was girt round with a wooden palisade and a wooden tower was perhaps place in the centre of the motte.   Only traces of the palisade have been found in recent excavations whether there are any other remains to be found, it is difficult to say.

Lanark Castle may be older than the Middle Ages for a silver coin of the Empress Faustia, wife of Antonieus Pius was found here in the last century.   Antonieus Pius was famous for building a turf wall across Scotland from theForth to the Clyde.

Even the name Lanark may be connected with the Castle’s remote past because one possible meaning for the word Lanark in Welsh (the old language of Strathclyde) is a fortress or a promontory.

Lanark Castle was very important in the Middle Ages as it was a royal castle.  As such it was the favourite residence of William the Lion (1164-1214) who used to enjoy the hunting round Lanark.   It is also at this period that Scotland’s oldest surviving Medieval Burgh charter was signed atLanark Castle.    This was the charter of the burgh of Ayr, which was signed here in 1214.

The castle was probably used as a mint in the reign of Alexander III (1233-1286).  During Alexander III’s reign a man called William made silver pennies in Lanark.

Lanark Castle was also a centre of justice.   It was here that the Sheriff of Lanarkshire would administer justice on the king’s behalf.   It was furthermore the occasional meeting place of the Scottish parliament which met here in 1293, 1294 and 1295.

Lanark Castle is a central point to the stories surrounding William Wallace.   It was here that Haselrig, the English governor of Lanark during the Wars of Independence, held Marion Braidfoot.   Her plight attracted the attention of William Wallace who failed to rescue her before she was put to death.   However William Wallace later had the satisfaction of setting fire to the Castle.

Even after the Wars of Independence Lanark Castle continued to be important.  It was one of the few castle actually enlarged by Robert the Bruce.     The castle continued in existence till 1363 when it disappears from the records.


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