Highmoat; The Mote

Has been described as a Rejected Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Rejected Pele Tower, and also as a Possible Bastle

There are no visible remains

NameHighmoat; The Mote
Alternative Namesffergus grame, High Moat; Liddale; Liddel Moat; ye mote; Upper Moat
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishKirkandrews

A tower of 'ffergus grame' is depicted on the 1552 map of Cumbria, as a tower called 'ye mote' on the map of 1590, and as a house called 'The Mote' on the plot of 1607. This could have been a tower and moat rather than a motte. (PastScape)


Possible Tower or Motte.

Marked on the 1552 Map as a tower and houses of 'ffergus grame', on the 1590 Map as a tower on 'ye mote' and as a tower at 'The mote' on the 1607 Platt. Tower also shown on the 1607 Platt at Red Hill NY 409 735, which may have been on the site of Moat Farm. (Perriam and Robinson 1998)

Gatehouse Comments

There is no evidence of a motte but the 'Mote' name appears to have suggested to some this could be a possible location for an outwork or siege work of Liddel Strength. However, the whole area has 'mote' place-names and these all actually just refer to places previously in the demense of Liddel Strength (often called The Mote of Liddel). Water filled moats are unusual in this area. The sites shown on the 1552 map do tend to have been pele-towers (unlike the later maps where stonehouses are usual) although this is shown as a three storey house with roof, rather than with the crenellations shown on other towers. The Graham's where a large family with many branches of varying social status and wealth but some members did have the wealth to build towers. Fergus Graham was a brother to the family head Richard of Netherbye and a major member of the family. In Thomas Mulgraves letter to Burghley of 1583 called a 'howse'. The Roy military map of 1752-55 shows 'Upper Moat' as a complex of building with two focii. Given the apparent status of Fergus Graham it may be the late C16 High Moat was a small hamlet of unfortified domestic and farm buildings around a small, Scottish style, tower house or large bastle-house. Fergus Graham may have had one or two dozen adult men within shouting distance of his house, many of whom would have been experienced reviers. The map reference given in PastScape (NY39907381) seems unjustifiable precise. A location under or close to the modern farmhouse or farm buildings at Highmoat appears more likely.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY396767
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 238
  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 99 (slight)
  • Jackson, M.J.,1990, Castles of Cumbria (Carlisle: Carel Press) p. 72
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 93
  • Jeffrey, A., 1864, History and Antiquities of Roxburghshire Vol. 4 p. 232 (facsimile of map) online copy


  • Graham, T.H.B., 1914, 'The Debatable Land Part II' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 14 facing p. 148 online copy [online copy of 1607 platt > http://www.geog.port.ac.uk/webmap/thelakes/html/maps/m067.htm] [online copy of 1552 map > http://www.geog.port.ac.uk/webmap/thelakes/html/maps/m068.htm]
  • Ellis, H., 1829, 'Copy of a manuscript tract addressed to Lord Burghley, illustrative of the Border topography of Scotland, AD 1590, with a platt or map of the Borders taken in the same year' Archaeologia Vol. 22 p. 161-71 online copy

Primary Sources

  • 1552, the Debatable Land, Cumberland and Scotland, with lines of proposed divisions online copy (ffergus greme)
  • 1590, A Platt of the opposete Borders of Scotland to ye west marches of England (The Aglionby Platt) British Library online Gallery and [Old Cumbria Gazetteer > http://www.geog.port.ac.uk/webmap/thelakes/html/maps/m048.htm] (see also [Gatehouse Essay 'The Aglionby Platt' > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/APHome.html])
  • 1607, Platt of the Forrest of Nicholl and the Mannor of Liddale, Arthurett and Randelinton with the Debatable groundes online copy (The Mote)


  • Roy Military Survey of Scotland 1747-55 British Library Maps C.9.b 6/1c online copy