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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 651911

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NC84SW 1 831 411.

(NC 831411) Fort (NR)

OS 6" map, (1962)

The remains of the highest hill-fort in Scotland crowning the summit of Ben Griam Beg (1903 feet OD). It consists of a roughly oval enceinte 152m by 61m enclosed by a ruinous drystone wall, 1.8m thick and 1m in average height, and flanked at a lower level by enclosures on the west and NE. Some way below the fort on the south the remains of a wall of similar build cross the steep hillside. On either side of this wall there are traces of irregularly shaped enclosures. RCAHMS (1911) noted the remains of a quern, 4 feet in diameter, amid the ruins of this wall. Feachem (1963) implies that the fort is Early Iron Age and suggests that the lower lying walls and enclosures represent an expansion into a much larger defended and occupied area.

RCAHMS 1911, visited 1909; R W Feachem 1963; Visited by OS (J L D) 12 May 1960; Visible on RAF air photographs 106G/Scot/UK 76: 3355-7.

The fort, as described and illustrated, occupies the flattish summit of the hill. Its wall is crudely constructed of slabs, and is of unusually slender proportions, though the steep rock-strewn hill slopes afford a good natural defence. The enclosures abutting on the west and north-east sides, and the crude wall extending southwards from the south-east corner before turning to the west, are of similar construction to the fort, except that the wall of the north-east enclosure is more slight. These appendages to the fort do not appear to be outer defences; they do not utilise any natural defence that may exist.

The several small, irregularly-shaped enclosures at NC 828 409 are visible as platforms set into the slope on average 12.0m across, with their lower edge retained by bands of stone. The interiors are noticeably clear of stones compared to the surrounding rocky ground. In no way do they resemble hut circles. There are other enclosures of similar type; those at NC 831 409 being largely obscured by scree, and others at NC 828 410 occurring on more level ground.

The fort and complex of walls and enclosures below it appear contemporary. The extreme remote and exposed situation of the complex probably indicates a temporary refuge or man and beast under threat of attack, rather than a permanent settlement.

Visited by OS (N K B) 29 April 1977.

Surveyed by R Mercer leading a team from University of Edinburgh Department of Archaeology in July 1987.

R Mercer 1988c.

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