AS record-breaking high temperatures scorch the west coast of America and devastating floods ravage Pakistan, the impact of climate change is being felt all over the world, more and more with each passing day.

But new insight into one of Scotland's most historic and dramatic castles has revealed that battling changing weather conditions is not new territory.

Research funded by the Castle Studies Trust and Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has found that between 1200 and 1570, due to the impacts of the changing climate, both the old and new castles at Caerlaverock in Dumfries - both in the care of HES - were impacted by frequent tidal storm surges of nine metres above normal sea level.

The research, carried out by Dr Richard Tipping, Dr Eileen Tisdall and their team, has also offered additional understanding as to why the owners moved to the new castle (dated 1277), 200 metres further inland and on higher ground than the old castle, which dates to the 1220s.

The team say that, although it was previously thought this was to avoid the storms, there was more to it as the new site was "the highest point to which they could go and still gain access to the natural springs that would allow for a wet moat around their new, more desirable residence".

The research also established that what was once thought to be a harbour at the “old” castle could not have been.

When the team explored the moat at the fortress - which has featured in the hit TV series Outlander, there were sediments that dated back 6,000 years, formed when the so-called harbour was a tidal creek.

The team said in their findings: "The creek was widened and maybe deepened around 1200, but even so, waves at the highest ordinary tides could not have flooded it. But it was the only way that freshwater in the moat system could drain to the sea.

"It was also, of course, the quickest route for storm surges, increasing in frequency if not scale, to force their way inland. But they didn’t. 

"The sediments in the ‘harbour’ from around 1200 record still-water, low-energy deposition. We have to think that somehow the ‘harbour’ entrance was blocked off by people increasingly scared of the changing climate – not that they necessarily understood what was happening."

Dr Morvern French, Properties Historian at HES, says: “Using new techniques and analyses that were not available twenty years ago, the project team has shed new light on the environment of this strategically and architecturally significant castle. 

"The research shows that coastal climate change significantly affected people’s lives in Scotland’s past, as it continues to shape both our present and future.

“Historic sites like Caerlaverock offer a unique perspective on how humans have adapted to changes in the environment over hundreds of years, and we now know more about the lived experience of these inhabitants during an era which was turbulent not only militarily but also climatically.

“We look forward to incorporating this research into our visitor-facing interpretation so we can continue to tell Scotland’s climate story and provide a way for our visitors to connect with those who lived here hundreds of years ago, who would have faced the impacts of the changing climate much like we do today.”

Castle Studies Trust Chair of Trustees, Jeremy Cunnington, added that the body is "delighted to have funded this innovative piece of research that has transformed our understanding of Caerlaverock".

He said: "The amazing work done by Dr Tipping and team has not only advanced our understanding of the castle’s history and usage but also boosted our understanding of medieval climate change.”