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Publication Account

Date 1986

Event ID 1017429

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


'A very conspicuous object in the landscape for miles around' . . . and 'the most important fortress . . . . in the county' is how the qualities of this iron-age hillfort were summarised in the offIcial Inventory of monuments in Dumfriesshire. It occupies the summit of a steep-sided spur of Auchengibbert Hill and stands to a height of 289m OD. Its superb natural defences attracted further use of the site down to early moden times.

The summit plateau is sub-oval on plan, measuring about 45m by 40m, and is surrounded by a boulderstone wall. A hut circle, 4.6m in diameter, lies immediately to the east of the entrance, which is in the southern sector, and the interior contains other circular house stances. An L-plan tower-house, built before the last decade of the 1Gth century, stood at the north-western corner, and a stretch of lime-mortared walling along the south-eastern side, reported in 1920, was probably a fragment of its enclosure-wall.

A natural terrace on the north-eastern side below the summit has been bounded by a stony parapet, but man-made defences are otherwise confirmed to the western and south-western slopes. Very impressive they are too, comprising a stepped series of boldly scarped ramparts of earth and splintered rock gathered up from the intervening hollows. The lowest ditch or trench is rock-cut for most of its length.

The small finds recovered from the site and the surrounding slopes have a wide date-range. They include a signifIcant proportion of material attributed to the Early Historic or 'Dark Age' period. Prominent among these was a portion of a gold filigree panel of a bracteate pendant of 6th-8th century date (Nithsdale District Museum, Dumfries).

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Dumfries and Galloway’, (1986).

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