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Bruce's Camp

Cup Marked Stone (Prehistoric), Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Bruce's Camp

Classification Cup Marked Stone (Prehistoric), Fort (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Shaw Hill; Hill Of Crichie

Canmore ID 18586

Site Number NJ71NE 3

NGR NJ 7685 1900

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Kintore
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Gordon
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ71NE 3 7685 1900

(NJ 7685 1900) Bruce's Camp (NR)

OS 6" map, (1938)

For overlying rig (NJ 7665 1894 to NJ 7686 1898), see NJ71NE 147.

'Bruce's Camp' had probably been a 'cattle camp' of Bronze Age date, but by mid-1st century AD this had developed into a bi-vallate contour fort: traces of the ramparts are still visible, and the central area measures about 600 feet east to west, and about 300 feet north to south. Traditionally the army of King Robert the Bruce encamped here prior to the Battle of Old Meldrum (AD 1308).

E Meldrum 1959.

The fort now consists of a complete but weak rampart of tumbled stone with fragmentary remains of a similar rampart outside it. Both ramparts have been mutilated by tree clearance and planting and the outer can be traced only on the south and west.

Re-surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (RD) 23 March 1964.

Vitrification, was noted during recent field survey in the area in the NW and SW corners of the fort. Associated with loose tumble in the former area and from within the wall matrix in the latter area.

W Watt 1983.

This monument is situated in woodland at an altitude of 170m OD.

NMRS, MS/712/36.

(Classification amended to Fort; Cup-Marking). The remains of this fort are situated on a rounded hill overlooking Inverurie from the SW. Until recently two thirds of the fort lay within a dense conifer plantation on the S side of the dyke that traverses the hill from ESE to WNW, but this has now been felled and is strewn with brash and tree stumps. Much of the ground to the N of the dyke is under birch woodland, but most of the interior is clear of trees. The fort measures 225m from ESE to WNW by 135m transversely internally and encloses an area of about 2.5ha. The rampart, which is spread about 5m in thickness and from 0.7m to 1.5m in height, is heavily disturbed around most of the circuit, and in several places, particularly on the SE, there are traces of a later enclosure wall of relatively recent date extending along its crest. An outer rampart extending along the SSW side of the fort and around the WNW end, is probably the remains of an earlier perimeter. Now reduced to little more than a scarp about 0.5m in height, it closes on the main rampart on the NNW and SSE. At one point on the WNW this rampart is accompanied by a shallow external ditch, and there are intermittent traces of what is probably an internal quarry scoop.

Close to the middle of the fort and lying 25m S of the dyke that crosses the interior from E to W, there is a granite boulder with a cupmark on the top of its NE end (NJ 7688 1898). The boulder measures 1.4m in length by 0.5m in thickness and 0.6m in height, and is partly obscured by tree stumps; the cup mark measures 55mm in diameter by 14mm in depth.

(For the remains of rig-and-furrow within the fort, see NJ71NE 147).

Visited by RCAHMS (SPH), 5 November 2002.

NJ 768 190 Following from the substantial rescue excavations around Kintore between 2000 and 2004, the Kintore Landscape Project was established to place the results of the excavations within a wider landscape context. The current and final season of work in June 2006 focused on Bruce's Camp, Shaw Hill, Inverurie, a 2.7ha multivallate fort. The objectives of the works were threefold: to recover evidence to date the fortifications, to identify activity in the interior, and to examine the nature of the cup-marked stone previously identified on the site.

Five trenches were placed across the defences in various locations, and vitrified stone was identified in all of them. Vitrification was most severe at the main entrance and was only found within the core of the rampart. The inner rampart survived up to four courses high, measuring 1m high and up to 2.6m wide. The gate in the inner rampart was at least 5m wide and there was evidence for rough cobbling within the entrance. To the rear of the inner face at the gateway were discovered two in situ burnt posts, which may have supported a parapet of some description. There were some indications of timber lacing at the main entranceway in the E. The construction of the inner rampart followed the contour line: the inner face could be only 0.3m high, but the outer face must have been 1.2 m high.

The outer rampart had been extensively robbed but at the entrance was at least 5m wide and appeared to consist of an inner and outer face with an earthen fill. At its maximum the outer rampart was over 4m wide at the base but only survived to a maximum of two courses some 0.35m high. It was not to possible to establish a relationship between the inner and outer bank as the outer bank became a rickle of stones on the northern side, and indistinguishable from the collapse of the first rampart. No evidence for vitrification was found in the outer rampart.

Following the burning of the inner rampart a new bank or wall was erected between the inner and outer rampart. This wall was 1m wide and up to 0.35m high and contained vitrified stone fragments. The orientation of this entrance was altered from that of the inner and outer ramparts. This wall sealed two pits that had lain between the inner and outer ramparts and it is possible that these represent some form of palisading.

The collapse and destruction of the inner rampart had been revetted and cobbled over. Within this material was a substantial posthole, assumed to represent an element of a post-demolition gate structure. At some point the inner face of the inner rampart at the gateway was blocked with a slight wall, possibly relating to stock control.

Within the interior of the fort were walls, postholes and pits (including a possible cremation pit), as well as cobbling and one revetted terrace some 11m long. While the excavation areas were too small to make sense of the remains they probably represented prehistoric settlement. It also seems probable that the hoard of metalwork previously recovered from the site may have been associated with the edge of this terrace which runs across the centre of the find spot location. The trenches revealed that the interior had been affected by both rig and furrow and extensive bracken colonization.

The cup-marked stone previously identified by the RCHAMS was cleared of the tumbled tree stumps and a small trench was dug around its base. This process identified two further cups on the NW side and a possible third on the W side. The stone was edge set and was found to have been placed on exposed bedrock. There was no indication of chocking stones. It seems extremely likely that the stone had been deliberately placed.

Archive to be deposited in NMRS.

Sponsors: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; Glasgow Archaeological Society; MacKichan Trust; CBA; Challenge Fund; AOC Archaeology Group; Edinburgh University.

Murray Cook, Rob Engl and Lindsay Dunbar, 2006.

Scheduled as 'Bruce's Camp. hillfort...'

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 31 March 2009.


Note (2 September 1954)

This site was included within the RCAHMS Marginal Land Survey (1950-1958), an unpublished rescue project. Site descriptions, organised by county, are available to view online - see the searchable PDF in 'Digital Items'. These vary from short notes, to lengthy and full descriptions. Contemporary plane-table surveys and inked drawings, where available, can be viewed online in most cases - see 'Digital Images'. The original typescripts, notebooks and drawings can also be viewed in the RCAHMS search room.

Information from RCAHMS (GFG) 19 July 2013.

Aerial Photography (19 February 1999)

Note (21 April 2015 - 18 May 2016)

This fort occupies the rounded summit of Shaw Hill and extends a little way down its E spur where the surrounding slopes are slightly steeper. At the time it was surveyed by RCAHMS in 2002, the fort had only recently been cleared of trees and was strewn with stumps and brashings which obscured much of the interior. Nevertheless, the main defences comprise a rampart up to 5m in thickness and from 0.7m to 1.5m in height enclosing an elongated area measuring about 225m from ESE to WNW by 135m transversely (2.7ha). An outer rampart reduced to a scarp 0.5m high can be traced around the S and W, but it apparently converges on the line of the inner on the SSE and NNW, indicating that it may belong to an earlier circuit; in places an internal quarry scoop can be detected to its rear, while at one point on the WNW it is accompanied by a shallow external ditch. There is an entrance on the WNW, and two other gaps on the SSE and N respectively may also be original. A fourth gap near the W angle is probably modern, and the inner rampart adjacent to this has been heavily disturbed by the excavation of trenches and bunkers during WWII. Rig and furrow extends across much of the interior, the only other visible feature being a cup-marked stone. In 1983 pieces of vitrifaction were noted in the rampart at the W end (Watt 1983) and excavation trenches dug across the defences in 2006, demonstrated that the inner rampart, which measured 2.6m in thickness by 1m in height, had been extensively burnt. There was no evidence that the outer rampart had been burnt, but at some point following the destruction of the inner a relatively narrow wall about 1m thick was built between the two on the WNW (Cook et al 2006).

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 18 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2965


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