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Date 17 April 2015 - 31 August 2016

Event ID 1044342

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Note


The keep of the castle that occupies the interior of the fort on the summit of Hill of Dunnideer is a well-known landmark visible throughout the Garioch. The defences of the fort comprise two main elements: an inner core representing up to four walls or ramparts and several phases of construction centred on a vitrified wall enclosing the very summit of the hill; and two outer ramparts forming a much bigger enclosure extending down the flanks of the hill. The vitrified wall has been heavily robbed, partly to build the keep overlying the WNW end, which was probably also accompanied by some form of enclosure extending ESE, though this has also been heavily robbed and is represented by little more than a robber trench and a band of rubble cutting across the interior of the fort some 30m to the ESE. The extent of this fort is marked out by large exposed masses of vitrifaction, suggesting an enclosure measuring about 65m from ESE to WNW by 23m transversely (0.16ha). This lies within a rather larger oval enclosure measuring about 100m in length by 42m in breadth (0.32ha) within a rampart reduced to a scarp, which is possibly an earlier line of defence with an entrance where the access track climbs the slope from the W. At least two heavily degraded ramparts reduced to scarps lie outside this line at this end, the inner of which can also be traced along the N flank of the hill to peter out on the E, where it is overlain by a row of three circular house platforms; these could be outworks to the larger enclosure on the summit, or indeed the remains of yet earlier defences. The outer enclosures display a markedly different character to the core of inner defences. Both comprise low ramparts constructed from material grubbed up from an internal quarry, though in places only the terrace of the rampart is visible. The inner is pierced by entrances on both the ESE and WNW, the latter approached from a gap in the outer across a causeway across the external ditch that accompanies the rampart round this end. Richard Feachem considered both this circuit and the even slighter line below it the remains of marker trenches for unfinished works (Feachem 1963, 105), but they are consistent features that gradually expand in size towards the entrances at either end, suggesting that both are as their builders intended, and possibly largely constructed in timber. The inner encloses an area measuring about 210m from ESE to WNW by 120m transversely (2.25ha), while the outer, which has been ploughed down by the cultivation of rigs at the ESE end is even larger, probably originally enclosing 3.6ha. In addition to the three already noted, there are traces of up to seven house platforms within the inner of the outer enclosures, but there are also a scatter of much better formed larger platforms outside both ends, two of those on the W apparently cut back into the line of the outermost perimeter. An evaluation trench dug in 2008 recovered charcoal samples from within and beneath rubble thought to have collapsed from the vitrified wall; they have returned dates of 360-160 BC, while archaeomagnetic dates from the vitrifaction span the period 606- 275 BC (Cook 2010, 85-6).

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 31 August 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2959

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