Scottish Castles Association member Bob Marshall spent his childhood years in rural Aberdeenshire in the vicinity of the Bass of Inverurie which, at the time, he paid little attention to viewing it merely as a flat mound in a cemetery. Later, he was to discover that the seemingly insignificant grassy mound was, in fact, what remained of a castle – a motte and bailey which would have had a wooden castle on top, one of many constructed in the 12th century.
During those times David I of Scotland invited Normans and Flemings to take up land in Scotland but there was a catch – they had to render him knight's service i.e. for a knight's fee (a parcel of land that could support a knight) they had to kneel, place their hands within his, swear homage and turn out mounted and fully armoured upon command.
Some Normans had large holdings – say 40 feus – and these they could allocate to landless knights who in turn owed them service. Knights, having acquired land, built a motte and bailey to ensure that they kept it!
Bob, who is now a highly accomplished historical reconstruction artist, has recently revisited his childhood haunt to create a fabulous vision of how the 'grassy mound' he once knew may have looked.
Bob explained: "I am reconstructing the Bass of Inverurie as part of a project to try and shine some light on some of our earliest castles. I am aiming to explore, visually, how these developed and to see if anything can be learned from the process of using 21st century technology to interpret 12th century castle building.
"Even if I don't succeed in doing that, my hope is that this project will at least stimulate further interest and discussion of the subject. I expect that this exercise will create many more questions than it provides answers!"
To see more of Bob's work on the Bass and many other incredible recreations of historical sites visit his website by clicking here .
Article by Scottish Castles Association member Brian McGarrigle.
Photograph of the Bass today courtesy of Scottish Castles Association member John Pringle | Digitally reconstructed image of the Bass courtesy of Scottish Castles Association member Bob Marshall