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Field Visit

Date 16 March 1953

Event ID 920045

Category Recording

Type Field Visit


Earthwork, Harpercroft (see the plan made by the Commission in 1953, and Proceedings, vol. Xxviii, 390).

Inner enclosure: This is approximately circular and is defended by a single rampart. Except on the north side, where it is drawn across flat ground, the rampart runs along a well-marked shoulder which takes the form of a scarp about 6ft in height. One or two of the outer facing stones are still in situ, and a great deal of tumbled stone on the face of the scarp shows that the rampart has, in fact, been a substantial stone wall, but its thickness is uncertain in the absence of any sign of inner facings. What Christison took to be inner facings are actually the ruins of a later dyke, built of materials from the older wall and no doubt contemporary with the croft shown on the plan. There are no definite indications of the original entrance but it probably lay in the wide gap on the north. The stone-revetted track on the south-east is unquestionably modern, while the gap on the east seems to be due to ploughing. The croft and field walls clearly belong to a later occupation, and the mounds notice by Christison are presumably field-clearance heaps. The L-shaped wall on the south east probably belongs to an outbuilding connected with the croft. The whole of the top of the hill is enclosed within the rampart, and consists of a more or less level area which has been ploughed at some time in the past. Any original structures have been obliterated.

Outer Enclosure: On the west side, north of the point where a later dyke diverges from it, the outer rampart is indicated only by a crest-line running along the lower shoulder of the hill and overlooking a marshy hollow to the north west. The scarp is only 6 ft in height at the point of junction with the later dyke, but increases to 20ft in height at the gully, and then diminishes again. The bottom of the scarp is about 15 ft in from the dyke at the north end of the gully and continues at this distance from it as long as they remain parallel. All the stones have been robbed from the rampart in this sector to build filed walls. There is a break in the scarp, 33ft in width, situated opposite the hedge running down from Wardlaw Hill, and on the saddle which offers easy access to the fort. Another track, 20ft in width, occurs just before a modern wall across the line of the rampart and where a transverse gully cuts it at right angles. On the north east side the modern wall lies 12ft in from the edge of the scarp (the hachures can be made of arbitrary length here on the final plan, for the slope is long and unbroken). The first signs of tumbled stone appear where the scarp has broken away back to the line of the modern wall at the first tree. The break is 60ft in width, and beyond it the scarp is again 12ft in from the dyke with, however, a distance of 8ft between the top and bottom and a height of 6ft. The scarp becomes increasingly stony, and where the first kink appears in the wall, the outer face of rampart is visible for the first time, 5ft beyond the wall; it is 7ft in length and consists of a core of small stones faced with large boulders. The crest here is only 6ft from the dyke but the bottom of the scarp is still 8ft out and 6ft in height. The rampart continues in this state to the eastern apex, where the ruined wall branches off to the ESE: beyond this point the scarp is very slight and the wall is superimposed on the crest. The scarp next becomes a mound with a very slight inner slope some 10ft inside the dyke, and an outer slope 6ft beyond the dyke as shown on air photographs. Here loose stone is visible on both sides but there are no facings. The inner slope of the mound gradually decreases in width to the point where the modern wall diverges from its line, and a ruined wall takes its place. The latter starts on the line of the rampart then, after a short distance, cuts 15ft inside it before resuming again on the same course. In this sector the scarp is about 8-12ft out, but on this side the rampart does not follow a contour but is drawn arbitrarily across a slight slope. Some 60yds north of the starting point in this description, a track 8ft wide, and probably secondary, cuts obliquely through the crest-line from WSW.

The conclusion is that the outer rampart has been substantially stone wall, like the inner one, but its width is uncertain. Its line is in some measure dictated by contours but on the south west it deliberately chooses a curvilinear path. Air photographs and the OS map should be employed to complete the plan.

Visited by RCAHMS (KAS) 16 March 1953.

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