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Kay Craig

Dun (Iron Age)-(Early Medieval)(Possible), Outworks (Prehistoric), Unidentified Pottery (Medieval)

Site Name Kay Craig

Classification Dun (Iron Age)-(Early Medieval)(Possible), Outworks (Prehistoric), Unidentified Pottery (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Pairney Burn; Easter Coul Cottage

Canmore ID 26054

Site Number NN91SE 17

NGR NN 9744 1287

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NN91SE 17 9744 1287

(Location cited as NN 9744 1275). The structure on Kay Craig occupies the summit of a rocky knoll on the precipitous W side of the Pairney Burn at a height of 112 OD. The site consists of a roughly circular enclosure 10m in diameter set on the highest part of the knoll with another wall set at a slightly lower level. This outer wall is well-defined on the S and W, disturbed on the N; there is no wall on the steep E side. The wall of the inner enclosure is 1m thick and survives to a height of 0.3m whilst the outer is 2-2.5m thick and like the inner is of dry-stone build. This wall has been incorporated into natural rock outcrops and in places survives to a height of seven courses or 0.8m.

J Sherriff 1979.

(Location indicated at NN 9744 1287). Scheduled as 'Easter Coul Cottage, enclosure... a small fortified enclosure of prehistoric date, visible as upstanding remains.'

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 30 January 2003.


Measured Survey (12 June 2014)

The remains of this Iron Age building and its probably contemporary outwork occupy a partly wooded rocky knoll 230m ENE of Easter Coul Cottage. On the SE the knoll drops precipitously to the Pairney Burn; the heavily quarried NE and N flanks drop steeply through the woodland, and on the NW and SW the slope drops fairly gently though unevenly towards arable fields. The summit knoll is surmounted by the fragmentary remains of a circular stone building, possibly of two phases, which measures 11m in internal diameter and over 20m externally. These dimensions, the discovery of Roman Iron Age glass during recent excavation (Poller 2013) and the character of the stonework all invite comparisons with the broch on Castle Craig, situated just 140m to the SE on the opposite side of the Pairney Burn. The excavation also found evidence for the refurbishment of the W side of the summit enclosure in the form of a crude boulder wall and this later period of construction may tie in with the medieval artefacts, including pottery, recovered from elsewhere on the site.

The outer enclosure, which is probably Iron Age in origin and contemporary with the earliest summit enclosure, may also have been refurbished in the medieval period. Irregular on plan, it measures a maximum of 65m from NE to SW by 30m transversely. At the SW end of the site there is a notable gap between the top of the slope and a rocky bluff on which the start of the stone wall can be seen. Constructed with a largely earthen core held in place by inner and outer boulder faces, the gaps in the lower parts being filled with pinning, this wall measures about 3m in thickness and up to 1m in height. On the NW, this wall appears to have been carried across a natural gully on a thick bank and on the N and NE it has been severely truncated by quarrying. Outside this wall on the SW there is a line of seven large boulders which gives the impression of having been artificially placed. However, it does not seem to be the remains of a longer feature such as a defensive wall.

Documentary evidence for this site is limited to a depiction on James Stobie’s late 18th century map of the counties of Perth and Clackmannan on which it is annotated ‘Castle in ruins’ with a symbol also used by Stobie for nearby Castle Craig (NN91SE 11) and Rossie Law (NN91SE 1).

Visited by RCAHMS (GFG, JRS, IP) 12 June 2014.

Note (7 January 2015 - 30 May 2016)

The remains of a small fortification are situated on the summit of Kay Craig, a knoll forming the NW side of a precipitous gorge opposite Castle Craig (Atlas No.2650). The summit of the knoll is crowned by a substantial circular stone structure measuring about 11m in internal diameter and 20m overall, but this lies within a larger enclosure that backs onto the escarpment falling away into the gorge on the SE. Roughly oval on plan, this latter measures some 65m from NE to SW by up to 30m transversely (0.15ha) within a single wall, which can be traced round the shoulder of the knoll on the N and SW, and spans a shallow gully on the NW; apparently earth-cored with stone faces, the wall measures about 3m in thickness and up to 1m in height. A gap on the NW is probably a result of quarrying activity on the knoll, which is clearly in evidence on the N flank of the summit, but a second gap on the SW, where the wall terminates on the outcrops short of the edge of the escarpment, possibly marks the original entrance into the interior. There is also a line of boulders on the leading edge of a lower terrace below the wall on the SW, though whether part of the defences or a later feature is unknown.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 30 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2668

Project (1 May 2016 - 12 May 2017)

Archaeological features were identified and mapped from airborne remote sensing sources, such as lidar, historic vertical aerial photographs, and 25cm orthophotographs.

Information from HES (OA) 12 May 2017


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