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Craig Phadrig

Fort, Vitrified Stone

Site Name Craig Phadrig

Classification Fort, Vitrified Stone

Canmore ID 13486

Site Number NH64NW 6

NGR NH 6400 4527

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2016.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Inverness And Bona
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Inverness
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NH64NW 6 6400 4527.

NH 6400 4527) Vitrified Fort (NR)

OS 6"map, (1959)

(NH 6400 4529) Cistern (NR)

OS 25"map, (1964)

An oval vitrified fort, forming a flat crown to the afforested hill of Craig Phadrig.

It consists of an inner, heavily vitrified wall spread to a thickness of about 30', which encloses an area measuring 245' by 75'. An outer wall, also heavily vitrified, lies at distances varying between 45' and 75' outside this. Any other details are obscured by vegetation. (R W Feachem 1963) There is no evidence to show that the two walls are contemporary. (R W Feachem 1966)

Cotton (M B Cotton 1954) observed an entrance in the W of the outer wall, and traces of a third wall on the S side, also states that the inner wall may have had four bastion-like structures near the rounded corners.

According to Wallace (T Wallace 1921), there is a small earthen tumulus with a stone in its centre, within the fort, and a portion of the NE corner was marked off from the rest by two rows of earthfast stones in the form of a rectangle. He could not trace a well, said in 1783 (F Tytler 1783) to be 6' in diameter. This is the reputed scene of the visit of St Columba to Brude, son of Maelchon, king of the Picts, and the latter's conversion to Christianity. (information from C W Phillips' D A Index)

R W Feachem 1963, 1966; M B Cotton 1954; T Wallace 1921; F Tytler 1783; Adamnan 19 .

A vitrified fort, as described by Feacham (R W Feachem 1966). The inner turf-covered wall is well defined, surviving to c. 1.2m above the interior, with an entrance in the NE indicated by a slight depression. Immediately outside this entrance is a stony causeway which spans the gap between the two walls.

The outer wall is reduced to a terrace except in the SW and NE where it survives as a turf-covered stony bank c. 0.8m high. The entrance is not evident but it was probably in the E arc where there are two slight depressions in the bank. Cotton's alleged entrance (M A Cotton 1954) in the W is due to mutilation.

The third wall observed by Cotton (M A Cotton 1966) is a hornwork outside the E arc of the outer wall. It is defined by a reduced turf-covered stony bank which springs from the E corner of the wall and runs N to rejoin it opposite the entrance through the inner wall. There is an entrance gap near its S end up to which runs an ill-defined hollow way.

There is no trace of any structure within the fort except the alleged cistern which is a hollow c. 3.0m across at the lowest point within the central area, but there are several similar hollows around it.

Survey at 1/2500 (Visited by OS (W D J) 29 March 1962).

Visited by OS (A A) 25 August 1969.

Excavation by Small and Cotton during 1971 (A Small and M B Cotton 1972) has established the vitrified character of the inner rampart. Radio-carbon dates suggest the mid-4th cent. BC as the period of construction. Similar dates were obtained from the outer rampart which appears to be only in part timber-laced, several parts being entirely constructed of earth sometimes retained by revetting walls. A further season's excavation is essential before definite conclusions can be reached, however.

The fort appears to have been destroyed soon after construction. Post-destruction domestic occupation has been recorded before 150 BC and up to c. 400 A. D. The most important find is the clay mould for the escutcheon of a hanging bowl.

A Small and M B Cotton 1972; A Small 1972.

NH 640 452 An archaeological watching brief was carried out on 11 September 2006 at Craig Phadraig, Inverness, during construction of a footpath. No features or artefacts of archaeological significance were found.

Report lodged with Highland SMR and Library Service, and NMRS; archive will be deposited with RCAHMS.

Sponsor: Forestry Commission Scotland.

John Wood, 2006.


Field Visit (15 August 1943)

Craig Phadrig is an isolated peak of conglomerate rising to just under 800ft; it forms the north east extremity of the ridge between the Ness Valley and the Beauly Firth that is continued beyond the [track] by the Hill of Kessock. The sides of the peak are steep and in places precipitous. The elongated summit is defended by two stony ramparts entirely covered with grass and whins; the outer one was still planted with trees when the site was visited. The trees on the inner rampart and in the interior had been felled. The inner rampart encloses an irregular rectilinear figure, running from the south east dead straight for about 250’ and on the north west for 220’ but not quite parallel since the width at the north east end is 90’ from crest to crest [but] at the south west only 80’. No vitrified masses are now exposed, but on the south west the track across the rampart has laid bare two or three stones of a built masonry face 20’ outside the apparent crest of the rampart. No visible gap interrupts the rampart.

The outer rampart is much more overgrown. It crosses the ridge 63’ from the inner rampart’s crest at the north east end and 73’ from it at the south west end, but on the steep sides approaches to within 45’ of the inner rampart.

The interior of the enclosure is some 4’ below the rampart crest, but is uneven and pitted with hollows filled with nettles and ferns.

Visited by RCAHMS (VGC, AG) 15 August 1943.

Sources: Tytler 1783, Wallace 1921

[Typescript: INV 21; Manuscript (2): 1943, 105 (sketch]

Field Visit (20 July 1957)

This fort is situated on an isolated, steep-sided peak of conglomerate which lies one and a half miles west of the centre of Inverness; it attains a height of 400 feet OD and forms the north east extremity of a ridge dividing the lower Ness valley from the Beauly Firth. The ridge continues north east of the Firth, rising at once to the summit known as Ord Hill of Kessock (qv Ross and Cromarty). The fort is sub-rectangular on plan and measures 245 feet in length from north east to south west by between 60 feet and 75 feet transversely within the substantial ruin of a stone wall spread to a thickness of up to 30 feet and standing to a height of about 4 feet above the interior. The whole of the wall is covered in woodland vegetation, brambles and scrub, and although it is reportedly to be solidly vitrified all round the only part actually seen on the date of visit was at a point near the north corner. The thickness of the wall cannot readily be judged, but the size of the ruin suggests that it might have been as much as 20 feet at base. Another, reputedly vitrified, wall lies at a distance varying, at the crest, from 45 feet to 75 feet outside the inner one. This wall runs through dense scrub, but as far as could be judged, it had spread to about 15 feet in width and stood about 3 foot in height. No entrance gaps could be located in either of the ramparts (cf Knock Farrel), and nothing recognisable occurs in the interior except a depression near the north east end of the interior of the inner work. This was recorded by Williams as having been a well which was substantially filled to prevent danger to sheep in the 18th century.

Visited by RCAHMS (RWF?) 20th July 1957.

Watching Brief (11 September 2006)

NH 640 452 An archaeological watching brief was carried out on 11 September 2006 at Craig Phadraig, Inverness, during construction of a footpath. No features or artefacts of archaeological significance were found.

Report lodged with Highland SMR and Library Service, and NMRS; archive will be deposited with RCAHMS.

Sponsor: Forestry Commission Scotland.

J Wood 2006

Ground Survey (27 September 2010 - 22 February 2011)

A topographic survey of five hillforts on Forestry Commission land was undertaken in September 2010, and completed in February 2011. The forts surveyed were: Caisteal Mac Tuathal, Kenmore (NN 7790 4765); Dun da Lamh, Laggan (NN 5823 9295); Dun Deardail, Fort William (NN 1270 7013); Tor Dhuin, Fort Augustus (NH 3485 0693) and Craig Phadrig, Inverness (NH 6400 4528). The survey aimed to produce plans at a scale of at least 1:1000. Two of the forts, Caisteal Mac Tuathal and Tor Dhuin are covered by dense bracken and its removal would significantly improve the appearance of these forts.

Archive: RCAHMS

Funder: Forestry Commission Scotland

Headland Archaeology Ltd, 2011

Information also reported in Oasis (headland1-95129) 4 August 2011

Geophysical Survey (July 2013 - December 2013)

NH 6400 4527 As part of the Northern Picts Project surveys and excavations have been undertaken in an area stretching from Aberdeenshire to Easter Ross targeting sites that can help contextualize the character of society in the early medieval period in northern Pictland. Two short seasons of geophysical survey in July and December 2013 were conducted on Craig Phadrig Fort where important Iron Age and early medieval phases to the vitrified fort have been identified.

During the July survey magnetometry was attempted on the interior of the fort, but the vitrification and geology rendered the results unusable. Survey shifted to resitivity and four 20 x 20m grids in July and eight further grids in December covered the interior and lower citadel of the fort. The survey grids were recorded with dGPS.

The survey has shown the potential for geophysical survey to reveal details on the internal layout of forts such as Craig Phadrig. Possible features identified included potential circular structures in the southern end of the upper citadel and activity areas in the lower citadels. The most intriguing features are two linear low resistance features with a bowed end (features 9 and 10 on interpretative plot). These features may be the

remains of an internal palisade or large structure within the northern end of the upper citadel. A possible entrance to this structure is on the northern end where the linear anomalies curve towards one another.

Archive: University of Aberdeen

Funder: University of Aberdeen Development Trust in partnership with the Tarbat Discovery Centre and Forestry Commission Scotland

Gordon Noble, Matt Ritchie and Oskar G Sveinbjarnarson – University of Aberdeen and Forestry Commission Scotland

(Source: DES)

Ground Survey (6 February 2014)

NH 6400 4527 A detailed topographical survey of the surviving remains of a late prehistoric or early historic vitrified fort at Craig Phadrig was carried out on 6 February 2014. The survey allowed the creation of a digital terrain model, contour-based plans and oblique terrain models of the site within its landscape setting, which will be utilised to inform future conservation and management of the monument by Forestry Commission Scotland. It was one of a group of six such surveys carried out on Forestry Commission Scotland sites in February 2014. The other sites were at Castle Greg, Round Dounan, Sean Craig, Dun Deardail and Torr Dhuin.

Archive: RCAHMS

Funder: Forestry Commission Scotland

Louise Baker and Enda O’Flaherty – Rubicon Heritage Services Ltd

(Source: DES)


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