Montfode Mount

Earthwork(s), Motte

Site Name Montfode Mount

Classification Earthwork(s), Motte

Canmore ID 41140

Site Number NS24SW 5

NGR NS 22643 43747

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council North Ayrshire
  • Parish Ardrossan
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Cunninghame
  • Former County Ayrshire

Archaeology Notes

NS24SW 5 22643 43747

(NS 2264 4374) Motte (NR)

OS 6" map (1971)

Though noted as a fort by Christison (1893) and Smith (1895), this feature is a motte.

Information from K A Steer (RCAHMS) letter, 16 April 1954.

This motte appears as a flat-topped, oval mound situated at the E end of the Montfode Braes, Cut off from the N and W land sides by a broad, natural ditch. Its main axis runs NW-SE, 24.0m long. The top measures 18.0m E-W. The mound is regularly scarped, rising some 8m above the adjacent burn. At the N corner, the foundations of a wall composed of large stones can be seen in the turf. It stretches for about 6.0m on the N and 5.0m on the E. There is the suggestion of a small rectangular enclosure on the E side of the top of the mound, measuring some 5.0 by 6.0m, but this is uncertain due to the long grass which obscures it.

Visited by OS (JLD) 7 September 1956

RCAHMS air photographs (taken in 1977) show the pasture marks of two ditches about 8m apart and each 4 to 5m wide, arcing across the level NW approach to Montfode Mount. Although the nearest is 20 to 25m distant, there is also the suggestion of a substantial ditch around the NW base of the Mount. The ditches fade on both the S and E sides at a change of slope.

Information from OS Recorder (JRL) 14 October 1982

Montfode Mount is generally as described, except that none of the detail recorded by OS (JLD) is now evident on the disturbed and overgrown summit. Only the vulnerable NE side appears to have artificially scarped (2.2m maximum height). and there are no remains of the probable ditch around the base at this point.

No surface traces of the two outlying ditches were found; they would defend the only reasonable approach to the Mount, and their existence, as well as the general form and location of the Mount itself, suggests that this is a prehistoric work and not a motte. With an occupiable surface area of only some 300 sq m, this could be a defended homestead.

Visited by OS (JRL) 18 October 1982

NS 226 437 An archaeological evaluation was undertaken in May 2002 at Montfode Mount. The site covered part of a field with a Scheduled Ancient Monument in its SE corner. This monument is centred on the Mount, a small mound sited on a natural promontory formed by Montfode Burn, and previously interpreted as either a motte or a defended prehistoric site. Aerial photographs and previous excavation have shown that three ditches flank the Mount on its NW approach. The exact line of the outer ditch was established as part of the evaluation. This work also revealed a probable palisaded entrance passageway. Morphologically this seems most likely to be part of a defended later prehistoric settlement. Furthermore, the lack of medieval finds during this and a previous evaluation does not support interpretations of the Mount as a motte. Outside the enclosure a low concentration of truncated features were encountered across the level area to the N and W of the Mount. Although most remain undated, one contained cereal grains likely to date to the Bronze Age or earlier.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: Mactaggart and Mickel Ltd.

S Stronach 2002

NS 226 437 Topsoil stripping in January 2006 in advance of a housing development at Montfode, Ardrossan, was subject to a watching brief. The work followed earlier evaluations (James 1986; Stronach 2002) that had established the limit of ditches associated with a scheduled ancient monument (Montfode Mount). The ditches were, as far as possible, excluded from the development. The new access road into the site clipped the edge of the inner ditch associated with Montfode Mount, outside the scheduled area. A hand-excavated sondage into the ditch¿s primary fills recovered some charred cereal grain. The evaluations had established that a low density of truncated archaeological features was likely to survive elsewhere on the development site. Several groups of features were recorded as part of the monitored topsoil strip. The most significant were postholes and other features thought to be associated with a truncated roundhouse structure. Elsewhere pits, possible postholes and hearths were recorded. Two features were associated with probable Bronze Age pottery. The environmental remains from the site suggest a prehistoric date for all the features.

Archive and report to be deposited in NMRS. Report lodged with WoSAS SMR.

Sponsor: Mactaggart and Mickel.

Andrew Dutton and Simon Stronach, 2006.



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