Dissertation on the Ancient Territory and Family of Dinwiddie

By Jean Dinwoodie Welsh

Dinwoodie is a territorial surname and denotes ownership of

land in antiquity. In early Charters the territory is

described as a "forty merkland of ancient extent". It

comprises four square miles and is bordered by the River Annan

on the West and by the Dryfe Water on the East. It consists of

rolling farmland in which two of the modern farms bear the

territorial name, Dinwoodie Green and Dinwoodie Mains. The

term mains indicates that this was the home-farm of the estate.

Mains is derived from demesne, hence Lord of the Manor's Farm.

Dinwoodie Green in stage-coach days was a staging post for the

London to Glasgow mail-coach which changed horses there daily.

Prehistoric Occupation

The numerous hill forts (94 in Annandale) and enclosures in the

area indicate a considerable population in prehistoric times.

Neolithic Age

At Dinwoodie Green during dual-carriage-way construction a fine

example of a neolithic hand-axe was excavated and is now

displayed in the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.

On Dinwoodie Hill there is a very large dry-stone sheepfold

whose outline resembles that of a neolithic chambered-cairn of

the (3200 B.'C.) Cairnholy I type.

It is probable this sheepfold was constructed from the remains

of a robbed cairn as there are considerable lengths of drystone

dykes around the fields. During the fiela-enclosures of the

18th and 19th Centuries drystone dykers were paid a few pence

per day and had to find their own stones from the hillsides. A

neolithic chambered-cairn would be a convenient source of

stone. There is an historical example of this type of pillage

in the New Historical Account of Scotland (1845). This states

that in the nearby parish of Tundergarth about a mile from the

stone circle, on the farm of Whiteholm, there existed until

lately two cairns of pretty large dimensions and another on the

estate of Grange. "When stones were carried away for building

fences and other purposes, there were found in the heart of

them human skeletons contained in something resembling stone


Bronze Age

There are over 230 round-cairns in Dumfries and Galloway. In

Dinwoodie territory there are numerous circular and oval

enclosures. One at Dinwoodie Green has been partially

excavated and yielded evidence of medieval occupation overlying

a bronze-age cemetery, dated to around 1200 B.C.

Iron Age

The outstanding physical feature of the Territory Is the hog-

back hill which rises to 871 feet at its N.E. end. Describing

this hill in 1831 the minister of the parish, in his

contribution to the New Statistical Account (Vol.iv),

designates it Dinwiddie Hill, while the O.S. map labels it with

the name of the nearest modern farm, namely Broomhill Bank.

On the summit overlooking a steep scarp is a turf-covered

walled-enclosure containing the remains of hut-circles. It is

oval in shape, measures 190ft by 170ft, and has two entrances.

South of this enclosure lies another at an elevation of 700

feet. This is an iron-age multivallate fort of the promontory

type, the steep scarp on the East being used as the defence on

that side. The diameter of the approximate circle is 230 feet

and the entrance is on the South. On an enlarged aerial

photograph three valla can be distinguished, but to anyone

walking the site, only the inner vallum is obvious.

On the South slope below the fort is an almost square enclosure

28m N.W.-S.E. by 30m transversely with a distinct entrance on

the uphill side in the West corner. This structure is labelled

on the O.S. Map, Dinwoodie Graveyard. It is a levelled area

surrounded by a low wall now about 2k feet in height. The wall

is constructed of large hillside boulders covered by turf. In

its dimensions and construction it parallels the Celtic

Sanctuary Squares which exist in Gaul and which were common to

the Indo-european peoples. In the early La Tene period (500

B.C. to 250 B.C.) the cult area was a simple sacred space

delimited by a ditch and palisade. Later, simple wooden

buildings were erected to house the Gods. In the Romano-

British period several of these were replaced by stone temples

with porticos, as at Heathrow and at Lydney. Recent discoveries

of British sanctuary squares have been made at Uley in

Gloucestershire and at Hayling Island.

Dinwoodie Chapel

At some period after the feudal reorganisation of Annandale by

David I in 1124, a Christian Chapel was built on the Graveyard

and the territory became a Chapelry. It is not recorded as

ever having become a full parish and was eventually merged,

after the Reformation, with the parishes of Sibbelbie and

Apilgirth to form the modern parish of Applegarth. The chapel

was still in use in 1605 when, in a dispute with Lord Herries

(a Maxwell), "Sir James Johnstone made his vow at the Kirk of

Johnstone and at the Chapel of Dynwiddie" (Register of the

Privy Council of Scotland). All signs of this building have

now vanished.

Kirkstyle Knowe

Near the Graveyard a slight eminence is labelled on the O.S.

Map "Kirkstyle Knowe" which indicates that an early Christian

preaching-cross stood there. This compares with Ruthwell

Graveyard, where a site nearby is labelled Kirkstyle Knowe, and

almost certainly, the famous 7th Century Anglian Cross, thrown

down at the Reformation and now treasured within the Church,

originally stood there.

Most probably the early cross which stood on Dinwoodie Hill was

of wood and there is some evidence that this was one of the

preaching-sites of St. Kentigern (Mungo) when he was domiciled

at Hodelm (Hoddam) farther down the Valley. St. Kentigern had

been in exile in Wales following one of the frequent Anglian

invasions of S.W. Scotland from Northumbria. After the defeat

of the Angles at Arderydd (Arturet) in A.D. 573, King Rydderch

Hael was restored to his Kingdom of Strathclyde and invited St.

Kentigern to return to his See of Glasgow. He paused long

enough in Annandale to establish a Church at Hodelm and several

throughout the Valley. The parish of St. Mungo south of

Dryfesdale parish still bears his name.

Feudal Reorganisation of Annandale

David 1 (1124-1153) was the youngest son of King Malcolm and

his English Queen, Margaret. He was educated in England and

spent much of his youth at his uncle's court there, where his

companions were young Normans. In right of his wife he became

Earl of Huntingdon and Northampton. When he succeeded his

brother Alexander I to the Scottish Throne he introduced Norman

customs and created an aristocracy of Barons and Knights.

Annandale suffered a complete change of social structure and

David proceeded to give territories to his hunting companions,

probably landless younger sons of the Norman aristocracy.

Annandale received Robert de Brus of the Yorkshire family as

overlord and he married the heiress of Lochmaben. Ten Knights'

fees were created and the chieftans of the clans now held their

1ands by Knight-Service. Dunwidi became a Knight's-fee

required to supply 40 men-at-arms for the Crown. By marriage

to heiresses several Anglo-Norman names now make their

appearance in the Valley e.g. del Gardine (Jardine) in

Apilgarth and de Locceard (Lockerbie) in Dryfesdale.

The first known record of a Dinwoodie appears in a De Brus

Charter of 1191 conferring land from Dunegal, son of the Lord

of Nithsdale, Udard, to William de Brus. Among signatories to

this charter are Adam de Dunwidi, Humphrey del Gardin and Udard

de Hodelmo.

The Church

As well as land David reorganised The Church, establishing the

diocesan system and dividing the country into parishes each

served by a church sustained by tithes. Manorial Churches were

built and Dunwiddi Chapel must have come into existence about

this time. It is an interesting point that the Chapel was

built on the ancient enclosure on Dinwidi Hill and not near the


By tradition the Celtic Church was monastic. David brought in

French Clergy and endowed monasteries giving large tracts of

land to various foreign Orders. The clergy were almost the

only literates so that Crown and Barons depended on them for

administration. By the time of the Reformation so much land

and its revenues was in the hands of the Church of Rome that

the Crown was impoverished. A record exists that 16 acres of

the lands of Dinwoodie was owned by the Order of Templars but

they are not delineated.


David encouraged his knights to build castles in the Norman

manner i.e. a 'wooden tower and bailey on a hill, or failing

that, an artificial mound to give a wide view. The next

requirement was proximity to water in case of seige. The

fields round were enclosed to form the demesne. The site of

Dunwidi mote-and-bailey castle can be pin-pointed by the

position of Dinwoodie Mains. It fulfils the required criteria,

standing on a low hill beside the River Annan. It is also in a

strategic position over-looking the Roman Road which runs North

to Moffat.

In the Border Feuds which disrupted life in the 16th Century,

the feuding chiefs frequently burned down one another's wooden

towers. When James VI acquired the English throne in 1603 and

with it control of the English Army he determined to stamp out

this lawless way of life. One of his measures was to command

the, Border Chiefs to build castellated domestic towers of

stbne. Many of these still stand mostly in a ruined condition.

One very fine example which has survived in Annandale, with

additions, is Hoddam Tower. In Dinwoodie this requirement was

met by Robert Maxwell of Cowhill who had acquired the territory

on the marriage of the heiress Jane Dunwedy to his brother John

in 1568. In 1811 Dinwoodie Tower was demolished and the modern

farmhouse built on the site.

Heraldic Panel and Motto

The heraldic panel which had adorned Dinwoodie Tower was

incorporated above the main door of the new farmhouse. It is

of carved stone, in relief, and is described in the "Royal

Commission of Ancient Monuments of Scotland (1920) thus.-

"Panel containing in the centre a shield surrounded by

strapwork enrichment and having in chief two mullets with a

human head inverted and suspended by a woodie or withie-rope

passed through the mouth". Above are the initials P.M. and

beneath the date 1631.

The tete coupee links the Dinwoodie Clan with the Iron age in

which the severed-head was the most important Cult Symbol. It

is significant that Robert Maxwell did not use the Maxwell

Saltire as the coat-of-arms to adorn his new dwelling, though

he did indicate his younger-son-status by including the two

cadet-stars (mullets). The Dinwoodie family motto survived

among the lesser members of the clan decorating every-day

artifacts such as fenders and clocks. It is "Sint hostes mei"

and translates roughly "so be all my enemies", an echo perhaps

of iron-age ancestors or perhaps just Border aggression.

Recorded Early Dinwoodies

1191: Adam de Dunwidi signed a de Brus charter

1220: Alano de Dunwidi signed a de Brus charter

1220: Juone de Dunwidi is married to Robert de


1245: Sir Alan de Dunwidi is Seneschal of Annandale

1296: Aleyn Dunwythie signed the Ragman Rolls

1313: Alan de Dunwythie is Esquire in Lochmaben garrison

1447: Elisabeth of Dunwedy grants the lands of Wamphrey

to her son John Carruthers

1459: George de Dunwethy is a member of a jury at

Edinburgh Tollbooth

1498: George de Dunwethy raided Glandowyne

(the laird's son)

1508: Patrick Dunwedy hung for cross-border theft and


1512. Thomas (111) Dunwedy : is a Royal Ward

1537: James Dinwiddy : sued for Church tiends

of Kirkmichael

1552: Alexander Dunwoody : is Laird with 41 spearmen

1565: Johnne Dunwedy : guardian to Jane heir and

heretrix of Dunwedy breaks the

betrothal of Jane to James

Johnstone of Kellobank

1568: Jane Dynwiddie : last Dinwiddie of that Ilk, is

married to John Maxwell of


1594: William Dynwoodie : was a burgess in Kirkeudbright

1606: Olipher Dynwiddie : 'there' is a member of a jury

at Drumlanrig

1610: Oliver Dynwiddie of Glenae was Seneschal of the

Barony of K,irkmichael

1620: Robert Dinviddie of Kirkmichael "put to the horn"

for carrying pistols

The Maxwell - Johnstone Feud

For centuries in Border-Country, cross-border raiding and clan

feuds were a way of life. In the 16th Century a particularly

vicious feud, which kept Annandale and Nithsdale in turmoil,

was that between the chiefs of the two dales. The Maxwells of

Nithsdale were allied to the Jardines, their neighbours across

the River Annan, while the Johnstones were similarly allied to

their neighbours the Dynwiddies. In spite of the fact that

there was much intermarriage between the clans, there were

many battles and murders. Two Lairds of Dinwoodie were

murdered by the Jardines, Thomas (i) in 1502 at Dunwedy and

Thomas (II) in 1512 in the streets of Edinburgh. This resulted

in Laird Thomas (III) becoming a Royal Ward. In 1593 there was

a great battle at Dryfesands in which Lord Maxwell and many of

his clan were killed. Inevitably in due course the Laird of

Johnstone suffered the same fate at the hands of Maxwell's son.

"The Battle of Dryfesands" is commemorated in one of the Border

Ballads romanticised by Sir Walter Scott.

Dispersal of the Dinwoodies from their homelands

During the later stages of the Great Feud the Lairdship of

Dinwoodie changed hands several times. At one point the Laird

of Johnstone claimed the territory and attempted to evict the

tenants of the estate from their farms. Many lawsuits

followed. in 1612 a plea was entered against eleven Dinwiddies

and others, "for not flitting and removing from the lands of

Dinviddie and suffering the complainer to enter therein


The eleven listed are:- Robert in Dinwiddie

Johnne in Moss-syde

Peter in Howtoun

John in Hangingshaw

Adam in Dinwiddie Mylne

Thomas in Snab

Matthew in Howtoun

Gavin in Howtoun

John In Burne

George in Broomhill

William personal retainer of

Laird Robert

As the feud rumbled on, many men of the feuds were becoming

Protestant and Ministers were becoming powers in the land.

Complaints by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

that Lord Maxwell was attempting to revive Romanism prompted

King James to march an Dumfries in 1587 with troops. The

burgesses blocked the Royal Troops long enough to allow Lord

Maxwell to escape from his Castle at the top of the Vennel (on

the site of which Greyfriars Church now stands), and he fled to

Spain. Eventually, by the efforts of their kinsmen the warring

Chiefs were reconciled and a wary peace descended on the


Meanwhile King James was using other means to quell troublesome

subjects. He forbade some clans to use the clan-surname which

introduced new surnames e.g. Watson, Thomson, Williamson etc.

One decree which was to have far-reaching consequences was "The

Plantation of Ulster" in 1609. The Crown cleared large areas

of Ulster, forcing out the legitimate owners. Troublesome

Scottish families were banished from their traditional lands

and settled in Ireland. There several families of Dunwoodies

are still domiciled. Famine in Ireland later caused large-

scale emigration to North America, with the result that

families there with the Dinwiddie surname vastly outnumber

those in Scotland. There are small groups of Dinwoodies in

South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. All trace their

origins to Annandale.

The Territorial Name

The spelling of the territorial name varied with the changing

political fortunes of the area. The La Tene inhabitants spoke

Old British (Brythonic), a Celtic language which developed into

old Welsh and later into modern Welsh, which has the

distinction of being the most ancient living language in Europe

at least.

The Celts were a warrior society and only the priestly caste

were numerate and literate. This gave the Druids (Der-wydd =

oak seer) great power and the secret of writing was closely

kept within the priesthood. Their knowledge of natural

phenomena enabled them to foretell eclipses and solstices, and

use a calendar to regulate the agricultural year. This must

have seemed to innumerate laymen to be magical. Cult stories,

narrative poems and genealogies were passed on orally by

Gleeman who served apprenticeships of many years to memorise

their oral - literature.

The term for a FORT in Old British was DIN.

During most of the 7th and 8th Centuries A.D. the Angles of

Northumbria controlled the area that was to become Lowland

Scotland and by 731 A.D. they had installed an Anglian Bishop

at Whithorn. Churches in the S.W. had been traditionally

served by clerics from Ireland. The Anglian army was defeated

in 756 A.D. allowing immigration into Galloway of the Call

Ghaidhil, Gaelic - speaking Celts from Ireland and from Dal

Riata the Kingdom of the Scotti in Argyll. This increased the

influence of the Irish clerics and of the Gaelic language, so

that by about 1000 A.D. the language of the Lowlands had become


The Gaelic term for a FORT is DUN.

The clergy had an almost complete monopoly of writing and acted

as scribes for the tribal chieftans. As the clergy used Latin

they latinised place-names. According to Professor W.J. Watson

of Edinburgh the sequence of name-changes for Galloway is:-

Old British --Gaelic-- Latinised --Modern

Gal-,wyddel --Galweithia --Galvedia --Galloway

c.f. Din-wyddy --Dun-weithy --Dunwady --Dinwiddie/ Dinwoodie

The recorded Dinwoodies show these variants. In the Britonnic

languages 'dd' is pronounced 'th' so that wyddy becomes withy,

which is a flexible branch of the osier-willow.

In prehistoric European cultures the Osier Willow held pride of

place and was considered to be a tree of enchantment, connected

to the renewal of life. Funerial flint willow-leaf-shaped

arrow-heads have been found in neolithic burial cairns. The

Osier was strongly associated with witches and wicker comes

from the same root. Caesar recorded horrifying descriptions of

the Britons sacrificing human beings in wicker basket-work to

propitiate the Moon-goddess. In modern Welsh the word for the

numeral 8 is 'wyth' which harks back to the three-fold-bond,

using withies, by which human sacrifices were trussed.

In antiquity a brew of willow leaves or bark was found to be a

remedy for the pain of arthritis. Modern research has shown it

to contain salicylic acid, our modern aspirin. An arthritis

was thought to be caused by witchcraft this may account for the

veneration of the Willow.

The Osier was sacred to the Moon-goddess. This is a very

ancient idea. The Sumerians about 2800 B.C. worshipped a

Willow-Goddess named Belili from whose name the Biblical 'sons

of Beliall is derived, and an Orphie-Willow grew at the

entrance to the Dictean Cave, birthplace of Zeus. The early

Britons worshipped the Moon as a triple-goddess in her three

phases of waxing, full and waning and many relief sculptures of

the triple-goddess have been excavated. A good example was

found at Carrawburgh, Northumberland depicting the patron-

goddesses of the sacred well of Coventina.

Dinwiddie most probably means THE FORT OF THE WILLOW with its

connotations of moon-worship. The variant Dinwoodie is

explained by the development of the language of the Lowlands

into Lealana (Scots) through the influence of Anglo-Saxon about

the year 1450. In Scots, the term for a gallows-rope is

widdie, withy or woodie and the late variant, Dinwoodie, is the

most commonly used form in the ancestral territory at present.


Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments of Scotland

(Dumfrieshire) 1920.

History of the Celtic Place-names of Scotland. W.J. Watson

M.A., L.L.D. 1926

The Statistical Account of Scotland. 1791-1799 Vol. IV

The New Statistical Account of Scotland. Vol IV 1845

A Brief History of the Lairds of Dinwiddie. Thomas Somerill


A History of Scotland. J.D. Mackie (1964)

A History of Scotland. I.M.M.Macphail (Book 1 1954, Book II 1956)

Here's Scotlands' Story. W.R. Kermack 1951

The Normans in Scotland. R L. Graeme Ritchie (1954)

A History of Scotland. (Ecclesiastical). Vol II Duncan Keith


A Short History of the Irish People. Hayden and Moonan 1922.

The White Goddess. Robert Graves (1948)

Pagan Celtic Britain. Anne Ross (1967)

History of Dumfries. William McDowall (1867)'

Jean Dinwoodie Welsh


(Map in original manuscript not included)