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Tom A' Chaisteil

Commemorative Monument (19th Century), Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Tom A' Chaisteil

Classification Commemorative Monument (19th Century), Fort (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Sir David Baird's Monument; Tom-a-chastel; Tomachastel; Tomachastle; Tom A Chastile

Canmore ID 25524

Site Number NN82SW 3

NGR NN 82476 21700

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/25524

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

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Monzievaird And Strowan
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Perthshire

Archaeology Notes

NN82SW 3 82476 21700

(NN 8247 2169) Sir David Baird's Monument on site of CASTLE (NR).

OS 6" map (1959)

Traces of a fortification are still visible on Tom-a-hastle. About 1740 most of the stones were carried away.

OSA 1793

Traditionally this was a stronghold of the Earls of Strathearn. The foundations were removed in 1831 to make way for the erection of a monument to General David Baird the Hero of Seringapatam.

NSA 1845

A fort occupies the summit of Tom a 'Chaisteil (the correct name), a prominent wooded hill. The summit has been enclosed by two walls, the inner 3.0m above the outer, mutilated by the disused track which ascends the hill and which also encircles the summit. Debris from the walls lies scattered on the hillslope intermingles with the top-soil.

On the NE the outer defences have been destroyed by the same track. On the west side a series of ramparts extend down the steep slope and across it. They are generally reduced to grassy scarps but, where best preserved, the scarp is still 2.7m high and counterscarp 0.5m high. There are indications of an entrance through these ramparts, although the easier approach would have been from the east.

There is no trace of a castle on the hill.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (EGC) 3 January 1967.

Activities

Note (16 December 2014 - 4 August 2016)

The remains of a fort are situated on Tom a' Chaisteil, a low hill at the end SW of a ridge of hard rock that has diverted the course of the river into a relatively narrow channel some 4km W of Crieff. First noted at the end of the 18th century, when it was recorded that most of the stones had been robbed in the 1740s to build field walls (Stat Acct viii, 1793, 575), it was traditionally held to be the site of a castle of the Earls of Strathearn and was further demolished in 1831 to make way for the monument to General Sir David Baird. If there was once a medieval stronghold here, no clear evidence can be seen of it, though the summit knoll is partly obscured by dense rhododendrons. Nevertheless, an extensive series of fortifications can be seen both enclosing the summit knoll and also taking in a lower spur on the ENE, which not only provides the easiest line of approach to the summit, but is also the route taken by a carriageway leading up to the monument on the summit. Variously cut into the rock and founded on a built terrace of large boulders and rubble, the construction of this carriageway has been immensely disruptive, curling round the E end of the spur and climbing up to the summit knoll along the N flank to sweep round its W margin before approaching the W face of the monument, where the major inscription is to be found. Whether there are two walls enclosing the summit, as suggested by the OS in 1967, is currently difficult to determine, and even the course of the carriageway becomes lost in the rhododendrons on the WSW. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that at least one major wall enclosed the summit, rising in a scarp of moss-grown boulders above the built revetment along the inner edge of the carriageway on the N, and elsewhere forming a scree of stones extending below the carriageway on the W and along the S flank of the summit. In a narrow gap in the rhododendrons at the top of this slope on the S, a low stony scarp can also be seen set back from the margin of the summit, but in the present circumstances its character is uncertain and it is probably no more than the continuation of the carriageway or a pathway around the S and E, as shown on the 1st edition of the OS 25-inch map (Perth and Clackmannan 1866, sheet 95.13). The interior, which is rough and uneven and in some places strewn with stones, measures at least 40m from E to W by 33m transversely (0.01ha). This inner enclosure, however, is no more than the core of a more extensive system of defences, which are most clearly seen on the W, where some 15m beyond the line of the carriageway there are two outer ramparts built of material taken from internal quarry ditches; the outer comprises two short segments set to either side of a well-formed entrance way that penetrates the outer defences at this point, but the line of the inner can be traced round onto the S flank, where it forms a well-defined scarp extending along the lip of a natural terrace. There is no evidence of these outer defences on the rather steeper N flank, but crossing the crest of the ENE spur, some 40m out from the foot of the summit knoll, a band of moss-covered rubble extends in an arc along the leading edge of a natural terrace, while a second band of rubble can be traced lower down the slope along the S flank of the spur. On the E the latter is cut by the carriageway, which may have adopted its line on the N, though there is no reason to believe that the large boulders and rubble visible in the make-up of the road terrace there are the remains of the rampart in situ. The relationship of this latter work to the fort on the summit knoll is uncertain, particularly as an oval area on the highest part of the spur is also enclosed by a band of rubble; the oval interior of this enclosure measures 33m in length by a maximum of 12m transversely at its broader WSW end. In all, an area about 100m in length by a maximum of 50m in breadth may have been enclosed on this spur (0.4ha), perhaps forming annexes, and possibly indicating that this is a nuclear fort.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 04 August 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2637

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