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Date September 2015

Event ID 1026270

Category Recording

Type Excavation


NN 12703 70127 An excavation was carried out, 14–28 August 2015, by the Nevis Landscape Partnership with local volunteers and AOC Archaeology Group at the vitrified hillfort of Dun Deardail. The 2015 works form the first phase of a three-year project, with a further two seasons of fieldwork to be completed. The first season of investigations consisted of the excavation of six trenches, along with topographic and geophysical survey of the hillfort.

Two of the trenches excavated within the upper fort crossed the vitrified wall and within these a similar sequence was revealed. In both of the trenches a massively thick dry stone wall, at least 5m thick and surviving up to 2.8m high, was exposed. In neither trench was the outer wall face exposed, either due to a massively thick wall or possibly because after collapsing the outer face has slid down the steep slope of the knoll on which the fort was built. Despite not finding the outer wall considerable evidence for the structure of the rampart wall was revealed.

In situ charred timbers and voids within the vitrified stone demonstrate that the rampart was of timber laced design, with a framework of timber beams built into the rampart. Medial wall faces within the thickness of the rampart were also recorded, that may also have been key to the structural integrity of the rampart. Vitrified stone is apparent around the circuit of the ramparts. The excavations showed that the upper areas of the rampart had undergone the greatest amount of vitrification, possibly suggestive of a superstructure above the ramparts.

The vitrification of the rampart did not mark the end of the life of the hillfort but did result in the collapse of the ramparts. The ramparts were subsequently roughly refaced and the rubble collapse in the interior of the hillfort was levelled and the hillfort reoccupied with structural remains overlying the rubble collapse from the ramparts. The consistent sequence of deposits and structures revealed in all of the trenches will allow for secure radiocarbon dating of the major phases identified so far, notably the construction of the ramparts, the vitrification of the ramparts and the later re-occupation of the hillfort.

As well as investigating the interior and vitrified ramparts of the hillfort, two trenches were excavated over the slight remains of a bank defining a lower plateau to the outside of the hillfort. In both of these trenches the remains of an outer enclosure were identified, suggesting that in at least one phase of the life of the hillfort the terraces below the hillfort were occupied.

Archive: National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) intended

Funder: Forestry Commission Scotland

Jamie Humble – AOC Archaeology Group

(Source: DES, Volume 16)

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