Haugh of Urr is a small village standing on the east side of the Urr Water some three miles north of Dalbeattie. "Haugh" is pronounced to rhyme with the Scottish pronunciation of "loch", and the word means a river meadow or level piece of pasture.
Today the village comprises a straggle of mainly white-harled buildings along the east side of the B794, plus some development along a couple of side roads. The focus of the village is at the crossroads between the modern "B" road and the line of the old military road built from Dumfries to Portpatrick in the early 1600s.
Near the crossroads is the neat-looking Haugh of Urr Stores, which serves as a post office as well as a general stores, newsagent and off licence.
A little to the south of this crossroads is the Laurie Arms Hotel, another of the village's extremely well-kept buildings. Further up the hill is the Urr Hall & Library. At the top of the slight hill through the village, the "B" road veers to the right. Carrying straight on along a very minor road brings you to Urr Parish Church, whose red stone construction and gravestones give a clue about the appearance of Haugh of Urr itself until a white outer coat became fashionable.
Just off the B794 a mile or so south of Haugh of Urr is the Motte of Urr. This is one of the best preserved motte-and-bailey earthwork castle sites in Scotland, and covers an area of nearly 5 acres. Most of it dates back to the 1100s, though part of it may have started life even earlier as a hillfort. The site comprises a large motte shaped like an upturned pudding-blow, surrounded by a raised oval bailey, itself defended by a ditch and ramparts. The Motte of Urr was used by the Lords of Galloway until they moved in about 1240 to Buitte Castle further down the Urr Valley nearer Dalbeattie.
The move to Buitte Castle happened in the time of John, 5th Baron de Balliol. Ten years later his wife, Devorgilla, Lady of Galloway, gave birth to a son who would one day become King John Balliol. Lady Devorgilla is remembered for founding Balliol College in Oxford and, more locally, Sweetheart Abbey, both in memory of her husband. Lady Devorgilla's love for her departed husband extended to carrying his embalmed heart around with her in an ivory box with enamelled silver trimmings.
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