Edwardian penny, 1279-1344. The obverse of this silver coin shows a crowned portrait of King Edward I, front facing, with the inscription EDWR ANGL DNS HYB, which stands for' Edward King of England and Lord of Ireland'. A long cross with three pellets in each quarter is on the reverse. Here, the inscription indicates the name of the mint.

This English silver penny offers an example of medieval coin clipping, where small amounts of silver were illegally cut from the edges of coins, to be melted down and sold.The act of clipping was a serious criminal offence and punishable by death at the time.

The recoinage that commenced during the seventh year of Edward I's reign established a format for the design of English coins that will lack any substantial change for many years. The practice of indicating the King's regnal number on the coins was introduced by Henry III but was not continued by his successors: Edward I, Edward II and Edward II. This means that for almost a hundred years, all English pennies bore the name 'Edward' and their basic design remained the same. As a consequence, it is very difficult to determine the sequence of issue and to attribute the coins to one of the three Edwards.

Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock’s triangular shape is unique among British castles. A walk around the castle gives a sense of its strength, economy of form and pleasing geometry.

Three lengths of defensive curtain wall are linked at their three angles by high corner towers. On the north side is an impressive twin-towered gatehouse, where the Maxwells had their private rooms.

The Maxwells repaired and upgraded Caerlaverock over the years. The impressive machicolations (slotted defences) at the top of each tower date from the late 1300s or early 1400s – by which time the Wars of Independence with England had taken their toll.

Inside the castle walls is the remarkable Nithsdale Lodging, built in the 1630s by Robert Maxwell, 1st Earl of Nithsdale. Its attractive façade, with its ornate Renaissance stone carvings, is a sharp contrast to the severe castle walls.

Tale of two sieges

Caerlaverock was besieged and captured on numerous occasions, but two sieges in particular stand out.

The first, in July 1300, involved Edward I himself. The small garrison surrendered within two days of facing the full might of the English king’s army. A contemporary account of the siege is one of the most fascinating recorded for any castle in the British Isles.

The second siege, in 1640, was the castle’s last. It was brought about by Lord Maxwell’s loyalty to Charles I during his struggles with the Covenanters. The garrison held out for 13 weeks before surrendering.

Afterwards the castle was stripped of valuable fixtures and fittings and its great south curtain wall demolished so that Caerlaverock could never again be used as a place of defence.

Natural history

Many rare animals and plants live in the castle grounds, which lies next to Caerlaverock Nature Reserve.

There are 15 habitats in the grounds, including:

  • semi-natural ancient woodland
  • swamp and ponds
  • unimproved grassland

That so many nationally important habitats survive is testament to Caerlaverock’s protection as a significant historical site.

Find out more about Caerlaverock Castle


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