The history of Buittle Castle properly begins with the Lords of Galloway, but the history of the site, as a strategic outpost extends back to the Roman period and beyond, when the site was a crossing point of the Water of Urr. Even before this, evidence has been found of several round houses which were once on the site. Eventually the lands came into the hands of the powerful Lords of Galloway, who fortified the promontory further, creating a formidable motte and bailey castle.
The Medieval period must be considered the Castle's time of greatest prominence, serving first as the seat of the powerful Lords of Galloway during the independent Kingdom of Galovidia, after which it passed, through marriage, into the de Balliol family, the scion of which marriage was John Balliol, King of Scots, thus making Botel (as it was known then) the Capital of Scotland. King John's mother, Devorguilla, was Lady of Galloway, though outliving her two sisters, all part of a tripartite inheritance bequeathed by Devorguilla's father, Alan. She was beloved of her people and a great benefactress to education and religion. Through a bequest of her husband, she endowed and signed the charter of Balliol College at Oxford at the Motte of Botel. A depiction of the Motte of Botel can be seen below. The drawing below also shows the extent of the fortifications which Robert the Bruce's forces besieged during the Scottish Wars of Independence.
Lady Devorguilla of Galloway (1210-1290),
painted by Wilhelm Sonmans, 1670
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Seal of John Balliol