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Field Visit

Date 21 September 1943

Event ID 963935

Category Recording

Type Field Visit


Vitrified fort, Doune of Relugas.

The construction thus named occupies an isolated hill or crag at the junction of the Divie with the Findhorn, its base being protected by a crook of the Divie gorge. The hill rises some [blank in MS] above the level terrace on which Relugas House stands and falls steeply away on all sides; the gentlest slope being to the SE. Its flanks have been planted with shrubs, silver fir, spruce and other ornamental trees that must be at least 80 years old; some of these have been uprooted. Furthermore embanked and graded garden paths wind round the hill and lead up to the summit on the SE. A terrace walk supported by a roughly built dry stone revetment once ran round the summit. At a later date a high drystone wall, now somewhat dilapidated, was built on the terrace to provide shelter for some sort of enclosed garden. More recently this enclosure has been covered with netting supported on wooden posts; part of the covered area is now planted with potatoes while the rest, after having been used for military exercises, is now occupied by nettles and bracken 8’ high.

Plantation and horticultural operations have both masked the natural features of the site and seriously disturbed earlier constructions built upon it. Nevertheless it seems clear that the modern terrace is built upon debris of a stone rampart that formerly encircled the summit. Stones from this work, mostly moss-grown, are visible on all the flanks of the mound at the S corner outside and elsewhere under the terrace walk and in the side of the scarp by which the path reaches the summit. They include besides rounded boulders an appreciable proportion of building slabs. But in a large pile of stones, apparently dug up in cutting the path through the rampart, are some very large ‘vitrified’ masses of stone fused together by heat. As none such are superficially visible they can only have been derived from deep layers of the rampart cut through when the path was made.

Naturally no original faces are exposed and the plan shows only the apparent crest of the original rampart that may have been modified by recent terracing. With this reservation it may be said that the rampart protected a sub-triangular area about 175’ long NW—SE by 100’ wide N and S across its base. There is no reason to deny that the rampart followed the original contours of the summit, but the straightness of the SW side deserves notice.

On the N slope of the hill is interrupted about half-way down by a broad chasm, along the floor of which runs a garden path. The bank defining the outer side of this cliff is noticeably stony and looks suspiciously artificial, but the shrubs are far to luxuriant to ley us ascertain the exact nature or plan of this feature.

The superficial appearance of the ruins is not unlike that of Dun Evan and Castle Finlay, and sufficient vitrified material has been brought to light to justify the inclusion of the Doune of Relugas in the list of ‘vitrified forts’.

Visited by RCAHMS (VG Childe, A Graham) 21 September 1943.

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