6 miles east of Fintry, Just north of B818, by Forestry Commission track at western end of Carron Valley Reservoir, Carron Valley.
Atop a steep sided spur of the hillside and about 50 feet above the soft ground below, is an unusual almost square motte with sides 77ft by 75ft, within a similarly shaped dry moat 10ft deep and 30ft wide.
Sir David de Graham was in possession of the Barony of Dundaff in 1237. This site is regarded as that of the peel tower of Sir John de Graham, who fought alongside Wallace at Stirling Bridge in 1297 and died at the Battle of Falkirk a year later. His tomb lies in Falkirk Kirkyard close to the grave of another fallen hero of Falkirk, Sir John Stewart of Bonkyl.
de Graham's sword is on display in a Masonic Lodge in Auchterarder, piclink below. It was once kept at Buchanan Castle.
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The Graham's epitaph reads;
Here lyse Sir John the Graham, baith wight and wise,
Ane of the chiefs who saved Scotland thrise,
Ane better knight not to the world was lent,
Nor was gude Graeme of truth and hardiment.
A second inscription translated from the Latin reads;
Of mind and courage stout,
Wallace's true Achates,
Here lies Sir John de Graham,
Felled by the English baties (dogs).......( no offence to my friends!)
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The summit was accessed from the hillside to the north, and there is slight evidence of a ditch across the approach. A drawbridge would have controlled access to the tower from this side. There are fragmentary remains of a later house above the motte. This appears to have had walls of up to 3.5 ft thick, and sat on one side of a rectangular court, which in places can just be traced below the grass. There may have been corner towers on the perimeter wall.
These are probably the remains of Dundaff Castle, which although Gordon's manuscript map of the 17thc illustrates the "Ruynis of Grayms Castell" in an appropriate position on the bank of the Endrick the text may actually be attached to the entry for Dundaff which appears immediately below it. Pont's earlier manuscript shows Dundaff in a position which correlates with the site of the motte. There is no evidence of separate entries for the two structures on any subsequent map of the area.
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Sir John's descendants became Viscounts Dundaff and eventually Marquises of Montrose, and frequently crop up in Scottish history.
The valley itself was once a very fertile and productive place, now bleak since the reservoir dam was built and the water drowned much of it. It nevertheless retains a rugged and remote beauty, which seems strange given its proximity to the industrial heart of Scotland.
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The site itself had strategic importance lying west of the meeting place of the few roads that allowed a crossing of the hilly barrier of the Campsie, Touch and Kilsyth Hills. Before the flooding of the reservoir, the courses of the Carron and Endrick rivers passed within a few yards of one another just below the motte. Again emphasising the strange atmosphere of the place as one emptied via Lomond into the Clyde on the west coast, and the other into the Firth of Forth on the eastern seaboard. This is well worth a visit if only to absorb the view and atmosphere.
Other names; Dundaff, Graham's Castle.
NS68NE 1 68132 85849
(NS 6813 8583) Sir John De Graham's Castle (NR)
OS 6" map (1959)
Sir John de Graham's Castle, a motte, occupies a commanding position on a tongue of raised ground near the NW end of the Carron Valley Reservoir. It is almost square on plan measuring 145' NW-SE by 150', and consisting of a central platform, 75' NW-SE by 77', surrounded by a wide, flat-bottomed ditch, access to the platform presumably being by means of a drawbridge. The surface of the platform is at the original ground level.
Immediately NE, the broadening surface of the tongue of raised ground bears signs of occupation. These include a length of ruinous stone wall 3'6" thick, built with lime mortar, together with various fragmentary banks and indeterminate hollows. The wall may have formed the SE end of a range of buildings; at its NE end there is a return, in the inner angle of which there may have been a garderobe vent.
This motte was traditionally the residence of Sir John Graham of Dundaff who was killed in 1298 at the Battle of Falkirk. In the absence of excavation, the exact age of the motte is unknown, but there seems no reason to doubt that it formed the principal stronghold of the barony of Dundaff, which was in the possession of Sir David de Graham, the founder of the house of Montrose, in 1237.
RCAHMS 1963, visited 1952
Sir John de Graham's Castle, a motte with bailey, is generally as described by the RCAHMS. The ditch surrounding the motte is sharply defined, and is 4.0m - 5.0m in breadth at its base. The NE scarp of the motte is 2.0m high, and 2.7m high on the SW. At the NE angle a fragment of walling is visible in the slope of the mound just below the crest. The interior is featureless.
On the NE is a flat area, probably the bailey, though no ditch isolates it from the main ridge. A stretch of rubble walling, 40.0m overall in length denotes the S side of some former buildings. Part of the easternmost building remain. The S, and part of the W walls, remain at a height of 1.2m, and are 1.0m broad. The N wall, and remainder of the W wall, is grass-covered, and only 0.2m high. The westernmost stretch of wall is 3.0m high and 1.0m broad. A few hollows on the N side of the wall denote where the buildings were situated. Many large blocks of masonry lie round about.
Vague earth-and-stone banks, 0.5m maximum height, situated on the NW side of the bailey, probably denote the sites of other buildings.
Except for the crumbling condition of the wall which remains, the motte is well-preserved.
Visited by OS (JLD) 2 April 1957
This motte is as described by previous authorities.
Surveyed at 1:10,000.
Visited by OS (SFS) 20 November 1975.
NS 681 858. This motte is square on plan measuring 23m across. It stands to a height of 3m above the bottom of a surrounding ditch 9m wide. Fragmentary remains of stone buildings occupy the level ground immediately to the NE of the motte.
RCAHMS 1979, visited August 1978
OSA 1796; RCAHMS 1963
OSA (1791-9 )
The statistical account of Scotland, drawn up from the communications of the ministers of the different parishes,
Sinclair, J (Sir), Edinburgh, vol.18, 388,
RCAHMS (1963 )
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Stirlingshire: an inventory of the ancient monuments,
2v, Edinburgh, 175, No.186,
RCAHMS (1979 b)
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The archaeological sites and monuments of Stirling District, Central Region,
The archaeological sites and monuments of Scotland series no 7, Edinburgh, 37, No.335,
Stevenson, J B (1985 b)
Exploring Scotland's heritage: the Clyde estuary and Central Region,
Exploring Scotland's heritage series, Edinburgh, 85, no. 49,
Stevenson, J B (1995 )
Glasgow, Clydeside and Stirling,
Exploring Scotland's Heritage series, ed. by Anna Ritchie, Edinburgh, (no. 51), 100, 106, 2nd