The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Cow Castle



These camps are known in the country by the name of Cow or Kow castle. Mr. Sim was at first inclined to suppose that it had obtained this appellation from being a place of refuge for the cattle, but on further reflection thinks that it ought rather to be traced to the Scotch word, kow, the twigs of any shrub or plant cut and made into a bundle; thus we have broom kow, so well known to every curler, the heather kow, Cowden knowes, etc. I completely agree with this latter explanation, more especially as the Scotch for cattle would not be cow, but kye.

The valley to the west of this Cow castle, though it now consists of good cultivated fields, was in the memory of man an impassable morass, in which a curious place of security had been constructed. As all trace of it has now disappeared, I copy the description given of it in the statistical account: "A mound of oval shape, called the Green Knows, measuring about thirty yards by forty, rises about two or three feet above the surface of the surrounding bog. On penetrating into this elevated mass, it is found to consist of stones of all different kinds and sizes, which seem to have been tumbled promiscuously together without the least attempt at arrangement. Driven quite through this superincumbent mass are a number of piles, sharpened at the point, about three feet long, made of oak of the hardest kind, retaining the marks of the hatchet, and still wonderfully fresh. A causeway of large stones connects this mound with the firm ground. All around it is nothing but soft elastic moss, and beneath it too, for on cutting through the bed of stones, you immediately meet with the moss. Near the spot are the remains of some very large trees, and the whole morass may have been at one time a wood."
The RCAHMS record says you can spot the crannog as a slight mound. Or at least, they could in 1978 so who knows now. The fort itself has a rock cut ditch and is only easily accessible from the north east side.

From 'The Ancient Camps of the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire' by George Irving in the Journal of the British Archaeological Association (1854).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
15th December 2010ce

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