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Evidence of a drawbridge at Brodick Castle discovered

Evidence of an early 17th-century drawbridge protecting Brodick Castle has been discovered during recent conservation work by the National Trust for Scotland.

During the repointing work on the exterior of Brodick Castle, blocked vertical slots above the entrance to the castle’s battery were discovered. These slots are believed to have been used for chains in the operation of a drawbridge.

Further evidence of the drawbridge was found in the castle’s documented accounts, where an entry from 1608 records the purchase and transportation of timbers from Irvine. It has been suggested that these timbers were used in the construction of the drawbridge.

Derek Alexander, Head of Archaeology at NTS, said: “We’re excited to share the discovery of the drawbridge holes at Brodick Castle that were found during conservation work to the castle’s exterior last year. This amazing piece of history was revealed while repointing the castle’s walls, when buildings archaeology specialist Tom Addyman noticed the two vertical slots had been packed out with smaller fragments of stone once the drawbridge was no longer in use. Hidden by a layer of cement, these slots were only revealed when the joints were cleared of loose material in preparation for re-pointing with lime mortar.”

“Standing on the scaffolding, we noticed one slot and then another, each measuring about 50cm high by 5cm wide. Looking down the wall face it was apparent they were located immediately above the main door into the battery. And then the penny dropped, or should we say the drawbridge! It also explains why there is a stepped recess, around 2 metres wide and roughly 20cm deep, in the wall face – the drawbridge would have been raised into this recess to sit flush with the rest of the wall. After further investigation and research, we were able to establish that the holes would have been used to hold the chains that raised and lowered a drawbridge to protect the main entrance to the castle.”

Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie is the founder and editor of ScottishHistory.org and is also the editor of other online publications covering military history, defence and security. Neil has a keen interest in the military history of Scotland and in particular the military history of the Jacobite risings.

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