The plan is to create a motte and bailey, typical of a Scottish clan chief's residence, and eventually provide an arena where groups and individuals can experience the atmosphere of an authentic medieval working community.

Maureen Hughes, manager of the restorative justice service at North Lanarkshire Council, said: "We have some offenders who have actually finished their community service orders and asked to come back to Duncarron as volunteers, so that shows how enthusiastic they are about this project.

"It's not a soft option. For many of them it is their first experience of hard physical labour and working in a disciplined environment.

"They get a sense of pride from being part of a big project where they can see the end result."

She added: "The majority of those working here do not reoffend."

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