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Jackschairs Wood

Fort (Prehistoric)

Site Name Jackschairs Wood

Classification Fort (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Netherholm

Canmore ID 26551

Site Number NO01NE 20

NGR NO 0720 1680

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NO01NE 20 0720 1680.

(NO 0720 1680) Fort (NR)

OS 6" map, (1959)

A hillfort defended on the west by precipitous slopes and elsewhere by a stone rampart. There was an opening on the east and some remains of ditches outside the defences (Statistical Account {OSA} 1792).

Christison (1900) records it as a site with little or no remains and could only find 'three faintly marked trenches on one side'.

Information from OS (CJP) 8 April 1965.

Sources: OSA 1792; Name Book 1859; J Skene 1857; D Christison 1900.

This fort, situated on an eminence, is defended on the west by precipitous slopes but elsewhere by four ramparts with medial ditches; only slight traces of the outer rampart exist and it is possible that it did not continue round the south side of the fort. The entrance to the fort is in the east side; breaks in the ramparts in the SE side are mutilations.

Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (E G C) 19 November 1965.

There is no change to the existing record; this fort is situated in woodland to the SE of Netherholm steading (NO01NE 88).

Visited by RCAHMS (JRS), 22 November 1995.


Field Visit (10 May 1956)

Fort, Jackschairs

This is a curvilinear earthwork, in a better state of preservation than Christison (1900, 107) allows but very difficult to plan owing to the fact that it is encumbered by trees. The defences are best preserved on the E., where four ramparts, separated by ditches, are visible. The ramparts are reduced to terraces, but these are well marked and are traceable at various points round the rest of the circuit.

NO 07 16

Visited by RCAHMS (KAS) 10 May 1956

Measured Survey (August 2007)

NO 0720 1680 A survey consisting of c4200 points was collected using Leica total stations in an area approximately 130 x 140m over a period of five days in August 2007 by students as part of the SERF project at the location of Jackschairs hillfort. The best preserved section of the defences around the entrance area to the E is clearly visible, as are the four ramparts, although the outermost ditch is very indistinct as much of it lies in the modern field. The ramparts swing round to the N and S of the entrance and appear to run out where the natural topography is at its steepest. There is a suggestion of rampart surviving on the southern side, and possibly on the northern side, although here the picture is complicated by the presence of steep natural rock

terracing. Similar terracing exists on the steeper western side of the hillfort where the ground sharply falls away, and the survey data currently suggest that no rampart is visible in this area. The rocky eminence in the enclosure would appear to be approached by a continuation of the entrance roadway, suggesting that this

area could be worth further investigation.

Archive currently deposited with the Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow.

Funder: British Academy, Historic Scotland, Department of Archaeology University of Glasgow, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Excavation (6 August 2007 - 26 August 2007)

NO 0720 1680 The fort is defined by four ramparts and at least three ditches on the eastern side. The innermost rampart is coincident with the natural break of slope, and the site could be described as a ‘contour’ hillfort. The excavation undertaken between 6–26 August 2007 was intended to investigate the sequence and composition of the ramparts and a portion of the interior. A single trench (35m long and 1.5m wide) was located to the E of the entrance and cut through the visible surface features of the ditches and ramparts and into the interior of the hillfort.

Preservation of archaeological deposits in the interior of the hillfort was greatest immediately behind the innermost bank (rampart 1) and here the trench was expanded by 1.5m to the N and S to expose surface features and the rear of the rampart. These revealed that rampart 1 was faced with three courses of sandstone blocks, which survived to a height of 0.76–0.9m. Orthostatic slabs defined a corridor running parallel

with rampart 1. Excavation revealed fragments of paving, a curvilinear stone setting/paving relating to a larger structure, and several charcoal-rich pits with evidence of in situ burning. A destruction layer was preserved in places leaving other charcoal rich deposits.

Evidence for the construction of rampart 1 suggested that redeposited natural from the inner ditch (ditch 1) formed an earthen core that preserved elements of the old ground surface. The inner stone facing of Rampart 1 was integrated into the earthen core and incorporated a large orthostatic boulder, which provided structural integrity for a large posthole cut into the rampart, suggesting both stone and substantial timber construction. The exterior face of the rampart also looks to have been faced in stone although only a few stones remained

in situ. Evidence for the destruction of an early timber phase was preserved in the primary deposits of Ditch 1 which consisted of charcoal-rich deposits on the sides of the ditch and a grey ashy deposit in the base. These were sealed under a later deposit which related to a stepped construction cut into the natural subsoil as part of the construction of Rampart 2. A fragment of hand-made coarse pottery was recovered from ditch 1 beneath

a large deposit of tumbled stones, evidence of a stone walling or revetment on the outer face of Rampart 1.

The outer ramparts were simple earthen dumps, quarried from the intervening ditches. No outer ditch could be located. The outermost rampart (rampart 4) had a trickle of small stones running along its crest which may represent the location of a heavily eroded palisade. From the excavations it would appear that the earliest phase of the fortifications was limited to an inner bank and ditch, which was later elaborated by the addition of three ditches possibly all at the same time.

Archive currently deposited with the Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow.

Funder: British Academy, Historic Scotland, Department of Archaeology University of Glasgow, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

T Poller, M Goldberg and S Driscoll 2007

Field Visit (12 August 2008 - 15 August 2008)

NO 0451 1309 (centred on) A walkover survey was carried out 12–15 August 2008. Teams of students walked systematically across defined areas c20m apart, flagging any features of interest and returning to record them on a form and discuss their interpretation. In this way we covered 800 x 500m, and recorded 37 sites and features.

By far the most striking aspect of the archaeology of our area was the complex of substantial, almost monumental, turf dykes, typically 1.5m wide and 0.5m high. We recorded an area of rig and furrow immediately S of Knock of Boghall that had furrows c10m apart, c25mm high and a well developed curved profile.

The turf dyke complexes were associated with small, apparently turf-built structures, normally isolated or in pairs, with typical (and interestingly consistent) dimensions of 8–9m x 5–6m. These dispersed structures may be precursors of the familiar nucleated post-medieval settlements, or may be post-medieval and associated with the rig and furrow and the enclosures.

Permission to survey was granted by the landowner George Ritchie.

Archive: RCAHMS

Funder: British Academy, Historic Scotland, Department of Archaeology University of Glasgow and Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

Michael Given (Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow), 2008

Field Visit (March 2014)

This fort is situated on a prominent hillock within mature woodland 220m ESE of Netherholm (formerly Jackschairs) farmsteading. Roughly oval in plan, it measures about 70m from NE to SW by 50m transversely within four lines of defence, of which only the innermost and the second completely encompass the fort. Both of these lines of defence have been reduced to little more than terraces. The third line is a bank measuring up to 6.5m in thickness where best preserved on the E but it tails off to form a scarp around the S side and on the N it has been truncated by cultivation. The fourth rampart measures up to 5m in thickness but for much of its length it is overlain by a substantial plantation bank. Like the third bank it can be traced (as a scarp) around to the SW but it is barely discernible on the NE and NNE where it is overlain by the plantation bank. Excavation in 2007 identified shallow ditches between the banks but evidence for an outer ditch is presumed to have been lost to ploughing. The excavation also demonstrated that the innermost rampart had been stone-faced (Poller and Goldberg 2007).

The entrance on the E appears to be original but it has been mutilated by recent activity, not least the construction of a water tank. A second break, which cuts obliquely through the banks on the SE, is clearly secondary and is probably of comparatively recent origin.

The interior of the fort is dominated by a rocky knoll on the summit on which there are the remains of a small cairn. Elsewhere on the knoll there are a number of platforms, at least three of which appear to represent the remains of circular timber buildings. The platform immediately inside the inner rampart on the W has been set into the natural slope on the E where there is evidence for an eaves-shelf. The front of the platform stands on the line of the inner rampart which must already have effectively flattened by the time the structure was built. Elsewhere, the flattening of the rampart may have been the result of cultivation which appears to have taken place on any relatively flat ground within the interior as well as between the inner and second ramparts.

A shaped sandstone artefact was recovered as a surface find immediately outside the second rampart at the NW during the RCAHMS survey. Measuring a maximum of 160mm in length by 130mm in breadth and 75mm in thickness, the artefact is broken but bears evidence of having its bottom flattened. In its upper surface there are the remains of a hollow (oval on plan but conical in section) which has measured at least 100m in length by 85mm in width and 55mm in depth.

Visited by RCAHMS (GFG, JRS, IP), March 2014.

Measured Survey (March 2014)

RCAHMS surveyed Jackschairs Wood fort in March 2014 with self-reducing alidade and plane-table at a scale of 1:500. The resultant plan and profile were redrawn in vector graphics software at a scale of 1:1000.

Note (2 May 2015 - 19 May 2016)

This fort is situated on a steep-sided hillock at what is now the SE end of Jackschairs Wood. Oval on plan, it measures 70m from NE to SW by 50m transversely (0.27ha) within up to four ramparts with intermediate ditches. The ramparts are largely reduced to terraces, the two inner of which can be traced around the whole circuit. The outer two are visible only on the E and S quarters, the outermost on the E a counterscarp rampart overlain by an old plantation bank, and while there is no trace of either on the steep SW flank of the hillock, they may have been ploughed out in the saddle on the NW. An entrance on the E is probably original, though its outer end has been mutilated by the insertion of a water tank into the outer ditch on the S side of the gap, but a second gap on the SE is of relatively recent date. The ground within the interior rises into a low summit around the margins of which there are traces of at least three probable house-platforms, one on the W possibly overlying the tail of the inner rampart. An evaluation trench excavated across the defences on the NE shows that the inner rampart was stone-faced, and the excavators speculated that a post-hole in the top of the inner rampart, and settings of stones on the two outside it, possibly indicated the presence of timber palisades.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 19 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3009


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