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Publication Account

Date 1985

Event ID 1016623

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/event/1016623

This multi-period fort occupies the south-west shoulder of Dumyat Hill and commands magnificent views over the Forth to Stirling and beyond. The interest of the fort lies not only in the remains of its impressive defences but also in considering the significance of its elevated position and in the derivation of its name.

The east side of the fort is protected by steep crags and the main weight of the defences are concentrated on the west. The earlier period is represented by two closely-set stone ramparts, enclosing an area which measures 130m by 48m, with an entrance on the west; outside the entrance there are a series of outworks abutting the ramparts. The later work lies around the highest point of the hill and is linked to the earlier rampart by a much ruined wall; it complises a dun-like enclosure measuring 27m by 16m within a massive stone wall. Although the site is normally considered to be a multi-period fortification, with the dun-like enclosure built inside the remains of an earlier iron-age fort, it is possible that it may all be of one period. Recent excavations elsewhere, however, have shown that the sequence on sites such as this may be far more complex than the fieldwork evidence alone might suggest.

The location of the fort, standing at a height of over 300m OD, raises questions about the nature of its occupation, economy and status. Its position is extremely exposed, well above the normal level of cultivation, and must have been a most unpleasant place to have spent the winter. Most forts are found at considerably lower altitudes, where all-year occupation is easier to comprehend, and we must consider whether the fort was ever intended for permanent settlement or was, perhaps, only used on a temporary basis for particular, short-term functions.

Although the summit to the north-east is now called Dumyat, it is possible that the name originally referred to the fort itself Professor Watson considered that it might be interpreted as 'Dun Myat' (the Dun (fort) of the Maeatae). The Maeatae were a local late iron age/Dark Age tribe and it is possible that they lent their name to the tribal capital. For another possible example of the association of a tribal name and an archaeological feature see the Clackmannan Stone (no. 91).

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Clyde Estuary and Central Region’, (1985).

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