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comlongon_history

Upon climbing a short series of steps, one reaches the arched entrance; this doorway is the only way in and out of the keep and was so consequently formidably protected. Set within 14 feet of solid stone it was regarded as practically impregnable. To further reinforce this entrance further measures were undertaken. Firstly a huge 4 inch thick studded oak door faced any intruder. However, this was vulnerable to a concerted attack, and not fire proof, so immediately behind was hinged an Iron Gate or “Yett”. The Yett was an ingenious defensive feature, wrought in such a fashion as to make it almost impossible to dismantle. Indeed, so difficult to deal with were these Yett’s, that in 1606 the Privy Council ordered their destruction in all strong places in the Borders as a consequence of the endemic local feuding. Comlongon managed to retain its original Yett by virtue of Sir Charles Murray who was made warden of the western marches in 1459. The extreme levels of protection provided illustrates the extreme danger faced by the occupants and the lengths they would employ to deter any unwanted intrusion. It also goes some way to explain the almost perfect survival of this unique structure of the period. Comlongon never faced any direct attack; most realising that any such assault would be costly and ultimately futile. Behind the Yett, on the right is a porters recess. The porter was considered an important official, as in the first instance it was his responsibility to either grant or deny access for visitors to the castle. The lower level or the barrel vaulted chamber served as a secure storage room for the keep. This chamber was divided into two levels, the lowest containing the well fed by a natural spring, vital in case of siege. On this ground level, fuel and fodder were stored. The upper level contained food for all the castle occupants, hopefully above any vermin infestation. Meat hooks can still be seen projecting from the ceiling. Recent excavations uncovered the remains of three mummified cats believed to have been sealed up alive whilst the castle was under construction. These relics were thought to protect the occupants from evil spirits. These have been now placed in storage because of their delicate nature. The whole basement is designed to be virtually fireproof in the case of accident or attack, or to burn out rapidly before consuming the upper residential levels. 10


comlongon_history
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