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Castle Findlay

Fort (Prehistoric), Vitrified Stone (Prehistoric)

Site Name Castle Findlay

Classification Fort (Prehistoric), Vitrified Stone (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Castle Finlay

Canmore ID 15203

Site Number NH85SE 7

NGR NH 8880 5140

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Nairn
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Nairn
  • Former County Nairn

Archaeology Notes

NH85SE 7 8880 5140

(NH 8880 5140) Castle Findlay (NAT)

Vitrified Fort (NR)

OS 6" map, (1959)

Castle Finlay (NR)

OS 6" map, Nairnshire, 2nd ed., (1906)

"Castle Finlay" (spelling confirmed) a partly vitrified fort with outworks on a knoll in the fork of two streams. It is oval on plan measuring c.33.0m N to S by c.16.0m transversely within a turf-covered wall of rubble stones spread to c.6.0m in which occasional burnt stones and a few small pieces of vitrified stone can be seen. The entrance is not evident.

The fort is surrounded at a lower level by a ditch, average width c.3.0m and depth c.1.0m, scarped into the slope with the upcast forming an outer rampart c.3.5m wide and c.1.0m high. This defence is broken at two places, in the E where there is a declevity leading down the slope from the fort to a water-hole or cistern, and in the N where the defence is offset. Outside the latter is a hornwork probably protecting the entrance which was almost certainly in this quarter.

A modern footpath is constructed through the defence in the SW.

Surveyed at 1/2500 (Visited by OS [RD] 26 November 1965).

R W Feachem 1963; Visited by OS (R L) 14 January 1971.

Castle Findlay [NAT]

Fort [NR]

OS 1:10,000 map, 1980.


Field Visit (20 September 1943)

This site was included within the RCAHMS Emergency Survey (1942-3), an unpublished rescue project. Site descriptions, organised by county, vary from short notes to lengthy and full descriptions and are available to view online with contemporary sketches and photographs. The original typescripts, manuscripts, notebooks and photographs can also be consulted in the RCAHMS Search Room.

Information from RCAHMS (GFG) 10 December 2014.

Field Visit (16 April 1957)

Fort, Castle Finlay.

This fort stands on a knoll that rises the from the 250 feet contour as this crosses the NW. flank of the Hill of Urchany. The knoll dominates the land in its immediate vicinity but the gentle slopes of the hill to E., S. and SW. soon obscure the view in these directions, and it is only to the and N. that the fort commands an uninterrupted prospect, over the lower reaches of the River Nairn to the shore of the Moray Firth at Nairn, four miles distant.

The innermost structure is an enclosure measuring 120 feet in length by 60 feet in breadth which is formed on the summit of the knoll by t ruins of a stoney wall among which a few lumps of vitrified stones were observed. The mound of debris is overgrown with grass, heather and brambles, and no facing stones were observed. No clear point of entrance is visible; a modern t o N. arc of the ruined wall, however, and it is possible that this overlies at least in part the original way in. The summit of the knoll continues S. of the wall for a further 70 feet, but no defences could be seen round the rim of this area.

An outer line of defence encircles the knoll a level of about 15 feet below that of the ruined wall. This skirts the base of the knoll to NNW, and continues at about the same level across the S. and flanks. It consists of a rampart formed from the upcast of a ditch which runs on its inner side (cf. Doune of Relugas [NJ04NW 5]). Its line is discontinuous, two gaps occurring in the S. arc and two in the E. The more southerly of the latter coincides with the presence of a vertical gully which runs down from the crest of the summit area to the base of the knoll at a point where there is a water hole. A fifth gap occurs in the NE. arc, and here the line of the bank is broken in! - 2 - in such a way that the free ends overlap each other. The ditch, however, is continuous at this point. No definite entrance can be identified, but the ditch and rampart are crossed by a modern track mentioned above.

A low narrow mound about 100 feet in length lies just outside the W. arc of the rampart. It is very slight, and may not belong to the system of defences. Another modern track which branches N. from the one already referred to runs just W of this slight mound, and it is possible that the latter was made in connection with this.

Visited by RCAHMS 16 April 1957.

Field Visit (May 1978)

Castle Finlay NH 888 514 NH85SE 7

This fort measures 37m by 18m within a partly vitrified wall. Additional defence is provided by a discontinuous outer earthwork with an internal quarry-ditch.

RCAHMS 1978, visited May 1978

Feachem 1977, 140

Note (23 March 2015 - 31 August 2016)

This fort occupies a knoll rising from the NW flank of the Hill of Urchany, from which the ground drops away sharply down to the Geddes Burn. The defences comprise two elements: a small oval enclosure occupying the N end of the summit; and an outer enclosure encircling its foot. The inner enclosure measures about 33m from N to S by 16m transversely (0.04ha) within a wall reduced to a mound of rubble about 6m in thickness, in which occasional pieces of vitrified stone can be found. A modern track approaches obliquely up the W flank of the knoll to gain access through a gap in the wall on the N, but it is not known whether this was also the position of the original entrance. While the inner enclosure occupies little more than half the summit area, the outer forms a much bigger circuit around its foot some 5m below, comprising a rampart about 3.5m in thickness by 1m in height with an internal quarry ditch cut back into the slope and about 3m in breadth by at least 1m in depth. This takes in a roughly oval area about 90m from N to S by 45m transversely (0.31ha), though the circuit is not continuous and in addition to the gap where the modern track crosses on the W, it is broken by two gaps on the S, another two on the E, and a fifth at the N tip. At this last, the terminals of the rampart overlap, but the ditch continues across the gap and it is uncertain whether this is an original entrance; in 1964 the OS suggested that a scarp outside this gap was the remains of a hornwork protecting the entrance. The southern of the gaps on the E partly coincides with a steep gully dropping down the slope to a water-hole at the foot of the knoll. The relationship between the inner and outer enclosures is unknown.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 31 August 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2910


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