Searching for Gododdin (iv): Black & Green Castles (Danskine)

Is it me, or did the Summer just arrive?  No it definitely did & it is, with some positivity, still here! The world, or at least the county, is my oyster once more, & it is time to go out & explore. In that spirit this shall be the last of my Gododdin series for 2019. I’ve left a great walk till last, however, which begins on the extremities of the county on the road that leads from Gifford in the direction of Duns.

Its a great drive or cycle this, with the Lammermuir ridge towering over & advancing towards the approaching traveler like the Alps over Bavaria. Not quite as imposing, obviously, but there is a certain beauty to the scene. One must park up at a cattle grid next to Darent House, more or the last residence in the county, Across the road from here is the Tweeddale Fisheries, full of ‘hard-fighting trout.’

They’re a mellow bunch round these parts, & don’t mind the odd walker enjoying  the scintillating views into several counties & there’s even a cafe open to the public which does a grand bacon butty.

So me & Daisy walked into the tri-loch system, keeping the first one to our left, along which banks we were followed by a male swan keeping an eye on his nesting mate.

Beyond the second loch we wove left & then onwards, leaving the cafe & main hub behind, & heading in the direction of Green Castle  – the first of the two hill-forts this walk takes in. The fishermen were in fine spirits, but not too happy with the sunshine apparently its too bright for the fish at the surface.

Green Castle

At the far end of the third loch, I hopped over a fence, & Daisy under, & we were soon wandering up & round the really evocative from the other side fortification. This triangular fort rests on the steep right bank of the Newlands Burn and is protected a short distance away to the N by a minor watercourse, & along with its isolated gullies would have been a tough nut to crack.

Returning to Fisheries, we headed along the far western shore of the third loch for a wee while, then instead of returning to the car, we took a grassy track west for about 100 metres. This ends up at Newlands farm eventually – a bonnie walk in itself – but for today we were heading up & over the gate on our right

Turn left at the top

We had now been swept into a vast, smooth field. The views – well panoramas really – are sublime here, & variable also. One must climb a gentle rise in the direction of some trees – Black Castle Wood. As you approach them, you should be able to make out the rough ramparts of Black Castle.

There is a gate in the fence at the top of the field which one pass over, then head right & forward to the corner of this new field. This gives you access to the Black Fort, which can be pleasantly explored, but to continue the work the easiest way is to head towards the woods in the direction of Newlands again.

Hop over here

Black Fort’s proximity to Danskine suggest that it was once known as Dun Skine, with the Dun element meaning hillfort. The fort is on the summit of a hillock, at 900 feet (270 m). It measures about 380 by 340 feet (120 by 100 m). It has an inner and an outer rampart, and two entrances marked by causeways.

The name ‘Skine’ links to a certain Serguan, whose name does not appear in Y Gododdin, but we can definitely connect him to the Gododdin. In the Harleian genealogies, & specifically the Welsh kingdom of Ceredigion, we may observe;

[G]uocaun map Mouric map Dumnguallaun map Arthgen map Seissil map Clitauc Artgloys map Artbodgu map Bodgu map SERGUAN Serguil map Iusay map Ceretic map Cuneda.


That Ceretic is the son of Cunedda gives us a positive link between Serguan & the Gododdin, for Cunedda was the Dark Age warlord who moved from the Lothians to Northern Wales in order to fight the Irish pirates known as the Scots. He won, & so the Scots decided to try Dalriada instead… & the rest is history.

Maelgwn, the great king, was reigning among the Britons in the region of Gwynedd, for his ancestor, Cunedag, with his sons, whose number was eight, had come previously from the northern part, that is from the region which is called Manaw Gododdin, one hundred and forty-six years before Maelgwn reigned. And with great slaughter they drove out from those regions the Scotti who never returned again to inhabit them.
The Historia Brittonum of Nennius (9th Century)

Ceredigion is a long way from East Lothian, but in the 6th century the ‘Welsh’ world stretched in an unbroken realm from East Lothian, west to Strathclyde & down the entire west of Britain to Cornwall. It is within the genealogy for Strathclyde, as found in a text known as ‘The Descent of the men of the North,’ that we see Serguan again.

Ryderch Hael m. Tutwal Tutelyt m. Kedic m. Dyuynwal Hen Mordaf m. Seruan m. Kedic

The Strathclyde lineage shows Serguan as the son of Kedic/Ceretic, rather than the grandson as proposed by the Harleian Genealogy, but the correlation is consistent. It also places Serguan in Scotland.

The crucial gate to continue the walk
DO NOT climb over this

Leaving the fort & its history, at this point I made the mistake of climbing into a newly planted wood, but Daisy saw me right & stuck to the fringes of the field instead. Still, we were in close unison as we made our way in the direction of the Gifford-Duns road where of course our car was parked.

Danskine Farm – centre-right

To the left of my vision I could see Danskine farm itself, which was an inn back in the day, & was also a smugglers hotpsot. An article in an 1870’s edition of the Haddingtonshire Courier recounts a boat full of ankers (barrel measure of spirit or wine) landing ashore at Dunglass Dean, Cockburnspath. The ankers were hidden in a barn for future delivery, when a Gauger doing his rounds found the place of concealment. He locked the door to the barn and took off to Dunbar to get assistance.

In the meantime, “Pat was up to the Gauger” and the cargo was removed from the barn. The officer returned with his help only to find the “bird flown”. Fooling the Revenue officers proved to be a popular pastime and was considered harmless by many residents, shop keepers and traders.

Once the booze had safely avoided the customs officers, it would have to be hidden & Danskine was also a well known location for the operation. The farmer and Innkeeper would take a late night journey on a bare-backed horse to bring kegs into Haddington.

Danskine Inn & Farm were long occupied by John Miller, a well-known man in his day. The inn was for a long period the halting house for travelers going to & from Berwickshire from Lothian, Longformacus & Dunse being the nearest places on the Berwickshire side. It was thus well frequented by all sorts of travelers, & a convenient & useful house of entertainment, both for ‘man & horse.’ Old Miller, it was said, knew much about the operations of the runners of contraband gin & brandy, who came across teh Lammermuir hills from the Berwickshire & Northumberland coast. Dealers in such goods knew Danskine well, & a supply could be got.
Reminiscences & Notices of the County of Haddingtonshire
John Martine


Me & Daisy eventually met up in a large field – there were sheep in it, but they were a good way off, & I managed to keep Daisy oblivious to their existence. We then skirted the field & finally reached the track at the entrance of the Fisheries, only a stone’s throw from the car.

There was curious novelty when I arrived, for I found a gentleman from Dumfries scrabbling about near my car on the cattle grid. It turns out he was a huge Geocaching fan. I’d never heard of it myself, but apparently there are three million hidden over the world. He & his wife had just spent a week in Estonia ticking that nation’s off. I mean, it really is a good way to get out of the house or to make a journey interesting I suppose.

To contribute petrol & petfood

Please make a donation




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s