by James B Sutherland [1]


In recent years a debate has taken place, often based on scant evidence, regarding Freskin’s background and the role he played in Moray. Some historians have viewed him as a dark, shadowy figure who performed a modest role in reclaiming land in the Moray Firth. This paper draws on new evidence to show that he was more likely a man of some stature who both helped to subdue the area and possibly contributed to its economic wellbeing.

In Scotland between 1124 and 1286 certain fundamentals existed: the knight, or mail-clad soldier was trained to fight on horseback; mutual acceptance of lordship and homage between two free persons existed called knight–service, including garrison duty; the fief or estate, usually land granted by the lord to be held by him and his heirs by the vassal and his heirs as long as the due service was performed; and the castle, a fortified residence, in practice invariably constructed as a ‘motte’ or earthen mound surmounted by a timber tower or keep, with or without a ‘bailey’ or court defended by earthwork banks and ditches.

King David I of Scotland gave land to Freskin at Strathbroc (Uphall) in West Lothian and, later, Duffus and lands near Elgin after he helped to quell disturbances in Moray in 1130. This happened at the same time that Angus Earl of Moray was killed leading a dynastic revolt. So how did this adventurous Fleming arrive in Scotland and what can we find about his background?

Foundations (2019) 11: 49-62                                 © Copyright FMG and the author

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