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comlongon_history

The Castle Comlongon Castle is built of local pink dressed sandstone, with a rubble insert, on a wide plinth base to act as a strengthener on what was once marsh ground. Measuring 50 feet square and standing some 80 feet high, it retains many original and unusual features. It is regarded as one of the most complete and advanced fortresses of its kind in the whole of Scotland. The walls vary in thickness but average some 12’ making it impervious to everything but the most powerful ordnance of the period; in short impregnable. Certainly the Castle would have been immune from anything less than a full military campaign led and financed by nothing less than a State sponsored assault. It is thought that there were only 8 or so occupants of the immediate family, probably 12 to 16 servants and up to 24 armed guards often known and referred to as Reivers or Raiders. The term Reivers was a loosely used term at the time for hired mercenaries or individuals who made their living from theft, extortion and criminal activity. Often these “soldiers of fortune” were for hire to anyone who could afford their expertise and used the lawless region as a safe haven beyond the reach of authorities from both England and Scotland. Certain families became notorious for their exploits leading to whole clans being declared criminals or “broken” with a price on their head who could be hunted at will without the fear of criminal prosecution. The Keep was surrounded by a raised area covering almost an acre which in turn was defined by a battlemented wall over 3 metres high protected by a deep wide moat. Within this walled compound lived around 80 or so individuals, supplying most of the day to day products the castle and its few inhabitants would require. There would have been blacksmiths, brewers, carpenters and various other trades housed in small wattle and daub structures with peat slab roofs, little changed for the last several centuries. The contrast between the lives and living conditions between the peasants and the occupants of the Keep could not have been starker. The Keep once completely covered in a coating of whitewashed render and then highly decorated in colourful designs would have been an imposing sight visible for many miles in all directions. Designed to be seen and as to serve as a reminder of who was in charge of the area would have been something few would forget, especially as at the time fewer than half a dozen structures in the region would have been constructed in stone. 9


comlongon_history
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