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East Lomond Hill

Bloomery (Period Unassigned), Cist (Period Unassigned), Fort (Iron Age), Road (Period Unassigned), Water Tank (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Armlet(S) (Shale)(Period Unassigned), Armlet(S) (Glass)(Period Unassigned), Crucible(S) (Period Unassigned), Ingot Mould (Stone)(Period Unassigned), Melon Bead (Period Unassigned), Pin (Copper Alloy)(Period Unassigned), Pin (Bone)(Period Unassigned), Ring (Period Unassigned), Rotary Quern (Period Unassigned), Unidentified Pottery(S) (Roman), Vessel(S) (Glas

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

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Falkland
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes ( - 1968)

NO20NW 20.00 2440 0620

NO20NW 20.01 NO c. 244 062 Chert Core

(NO 2440 0620) Fort (NR)

OS 6" map (1912-38)

A large and important hill fort on the East Lomond, in the construction of which the lines and character of the defences have been blended into the natural configuration of the hill-top. The summit enclosure, which is small for the strength of its defences, is 200ft long, NW-SE, by about 100ft average width.

On the N and NE sides, ramparts and terraces have been constructed despite the steepness of the slope. Even stronger works exist on the S comprising an intricate series of rickle-wall defences, a massive rampart of earth and stone and an outside ditch. The wall defences are broken up and scattered; the ditch and rampart has an entrance gap 49ft wide on the SE side.

Within the fort to the SW (at NO 2437 0617) is the site of a bloomery.

A spindle whorl, two hollow glass beads and a mould for casting small metal ingots were found on the site (NMAS HH 382-5). A stone slab, bearing the incised figure of a bull, was found within the fort in 1920 and is now in the National Museum of Antiquities (see NO20NW 23) (IB 205).

Source: RCAHMS 1933

Fort, East Lomond: The remains may represent those of two structural periods, but the actual summit area is so small that they may as well all belong together. The interior measures 200 x 100ft within a ruined wall. Several other ramparts are represented by both long and short stretches on the slopes below this, while to the S, on the only easy line of approach, a final heavy bank and ditch afford a serious obstacle.

Although it appears to be of standard Early Iron Age construction, the fort contained evidence that it was occupied to some extent at a very much later date than this (see finds, RCAHMS and NO20NW 23).

Source: R W Feachem 1963

The fort is generally as described by RCAHMS and Feachem. To the NE are two considerable scarps, almost certainly the remains of ramparts constructed as extra defences. Abutting the outer edge of the heavy bank and ditch on the S, are the unmistakable traces of two enclosures and a possible hut site. Within the fort, on the summit, there are the turf-covered remains of a large cairn c.13.0m in diameter and 1.0m

high. No trace of the bloomery survives.

Re-surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (RD) 6 September 1968


Field Visit (28 July 1925 - 4 May 1931)

This large and important defensive work occupies an unusually commanding position on the summit of the East Lomond, which rises abruptly to a height of 1471 feet above sea-level. In the construction of the fort the lines and character of the defences have been skilfully adapted to the natural configuration of the hill-top. The summit enclosure, which is pear-shaped, lies with its major axis north-west and south-east. It is relatively small for the amount and extent of the surrounding defensive works, measuring only 200 feet in length by about 100 feet in average width. It is surrounded by the remains of a rickle-wall of loose stones and shows evidence of much surface-disturbance, due, in all likelihood to the construction of platforms on which to build the bonfires that have been frequently erected on the site in modern times.

On the north and north-east slopes, where the hill falls away steeply and affords only a precarious foothold, there is a combination of ramparts and artificial terraces with a strongly defined traverse connecting two of these terraces, as appears on the plan. Two lines of terracing well down the hill-side are not shown.

The purpose of so much defensive work on this the strongest side of the hill is not easy to understand, but it may be noted that the traverse has been constructed at a point where the bare rocky ground begins to merge into the grassy slopes.

Along the south and more accessible side of the hill the defences have been stronger and rather more complicated. They comprise an intricate series of rickle-wall defences, a massive rampart of earth and stone, and an outside ditch. These wall defences are now so much broken up and scattered that it is impossible to exhibit them with clearness on the plan and only the more definite features in relation to the slopes have been depicted. The ditch and rampart are features of much interest (1). They extend from the rocky face at the south-west corner of the site to more than half-way along the fortifications on the south side, but towards the south-east they are broken by an entrance gap, 49 feet in width. Thereafter the ditch disappears and the rampart is much reduced. The line of approach from the south-east can be followed for a considerable distance and the entrance to the fort has apparently been continued in a north-westerly direction through the inner defences.

On the west side of the hill the steep rocky face served as a sufficient protection, and there are no artificial works.

Within the fort on the slopes of the hill towards the south-west there is distinct evidence from the occurrence of scoriae of the existence of a bloomery in former times. The exact position is indicated on the plan.

A spindle-whorl, two hollow glass beads, and a mould for casting small ingots of metal were picked up among the stony debris when the site was inspected. The slab bearing an incised bull [NO20NW 23] was also found within the precincts of the fort in 1905.

RCAHMS 1933, visited 28 July 1925 and 4 May 1931.

(1) Cf. Stat. Acc., iv (1792), p. 440 and New Stat. Acc., ix, p. 930.

Field Visit (19 April 1951)

There is nothing to add to the plan and description given in the Inventory.

Visited by RCAHMS 19 April 1951.

Publication Account (1987)

The fort [NO20NW 20] on East Lomond Hill occupies the summit as well as a lower terrace on the north. The hilltop is crowned by a large bronze-age cairn about 13m in diameter [NO20NW 144], now surmounted by a geographical indicator. There are two encircling ramparts, the inner one surviving best on the north-west, but elsewhere the lines are shown by scarps. The lower terrace has also been defended by a rampart, best seen on the north-east. An enigmatic line of defence may be seen at the base of the knoll on the south flank where there is a further bank and ditch.

An indication that activity continued into the first millennium AD is provided by the discovery around 1920 of a slab [NO20NW 23] bearing the incised figure of a bull in a rather effete Pictish style on the south side of the fort; the stone is now in the RMS, Queen Street, Edinburgh.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Fife and Tayside’, (1987).

Excavation (August 2014 - September 2014)

NO 2440 0620 A series of geophysical surveys and excavations was undertaken, August – September 2014, on East Lomond Hill as part of a scheme of community heritage training events for the Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership. Magnetometer and resistivity surveys were undertaken across three areas, respectively over the summit, the southern shoulder of the hill and across a terrace on the eastern slope. Ground penetrating radar profiles were also recorded on the summit and largest rampart. Scheduled monument consent was granted by Historic Scotland prior to the surveys commencing. Radar survey across a summit mound indicated the possible presence of stonework and rubble interior, this may be a cairn or stone building such as a small fort or broch. Survey on the southern shoulder indicated the outlines of several possible curvilinear buildings and enclosures.

Three excavation trenches were opened outside of the scheduled area. These included a slot excavated across a stone-lined bank on the southern shoulder. The largest trench investigated the site of a possible building. This revealed parts of stone walls, post settings, deposits containing charcoal and burnt bone, a possible stone-lined hearth, and a cut feature that contained iron-working debris. A ditch and remains of a collapsed rampart or stone revetment were uncovered on the eastern slope. Finds included a spindle whorl, whetstones, fragments of polished shale, stone tools, part of a quern stone, a stone pot lid, and a sherd of prehistoric pottery. Part of an iron horse harness bit was also found. Radiocarbon dates from charcoal samples indicate that the remains derive from the 1st/7th century AD and are probably part of a southern annexe to the hillfort.

Archive: FCCT, Falkland Estate, NRHE and Fife Council

Funder: Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland

Oliver O’Grady – OJT Heritage

(Source: DES, Volume 17)

Note (12 June 2015 - 31 August 2016)

This fort occupies East Lomond Hill, a distinctive conical summit that commands extensive views across Fife. At least three lines of defence can be identified, but it would be unwise to assume that all are part of a contemporary scheme; indeed, there are hints that at least two periods of construction are represented in the outermost line. At its core lies a pear-shaped enclosure, measuring about 60m from NW to SE by a maximum of 31m transversely towards its NW end within a rampart reduced to a mound of rubble; the only feature visible within its interior is a grass-grown cairn some 13m in diameter by 1m in height. This inner enclosure is also enclosed by a second rampart, now little more than a stony scarp enclosing about 0.34ha, while yet another rampart encircles the NW and NE quarters lower down the slope, according to the plan surveyed by RCAHMS investigators in 1925, obliquely mounting the slope on the E to meet the second rampart and also linked by a rampart dropping down the slope on the N; the sequence of construction at the junction on the E is uncertain, as indeed is its course on the southern flank of the summit, where the plan shows a series of terraces dropping down the slope above a massive rampart with an external ditch set at the foot of the slope. A notable feature of this outer defence is a dogleg on the SW, where it turns sharply down the slope towards the foot of the outcrops that protect the W side; oblique aerial photographs, however, reveal a faint scar traversing the slope from this dogleg, apparently heading for the lower rampart on the NE side, and possibly indicating an earlier line of enclosure on a far larger scale, perhaps taking in as much as 1.6ha, though in 1925 RCAHMS also noted several other terraces lower down the NE flank, two of which were not shown on the plan but can be seen on satellite imagery another 55m down the slope on the NE. A broad gap in this outer defence on the SE, on the line of a trackway that can be climbing the slope below, is possibly an entrance. Two hollow glass beads, a mould for small ingots and a slab bearing the incised outline of a bull have been found in the fort; in the course of the survey in 1925 RCAHMS investigators noted bloomery waste on a terrace on the SW.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 31 August 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3120

Excavation (May 2017 - June 2017)

NO 2440 0620 (NO20NW 20) Two trenches were excavated, May–June 2017, on the southern side of East Lomond Hill as part of a community archaeology project commissioned by Falkland Stewardship Trust. This involved reopening a trench previously excavated in 2014, outside of the scheduled monument area. A further smaller trench was opened to investigate the extent of a stone structure previously uncovered in the main trench. Multiple phases of metalworking and settlement remains were recorded.

These included a stacked series of well preserved stone hearths and post settings in association with floor deposits and material culture, the partial remains of Late Iron Age buildings. In addition to this a possible metalworking hearth was uncovered beside an area of paving. A stone box-setting lined with paving and clay was possibly a water tank. A small pit contained metalworking debris, which truncated an area of stone paving that incorporate patches of metalling and kerb stones. This structure, initially interpreted as a wall, was revealed to extend 15m to the SW and appears instead to be remains of a roadway. Three sondages were excavated within the main trench revealing two earlier stone hearths, further stone paving and bedrock beneath 0.5m of anthropogenic subsoils.

Significant material culture was found including a ‘rosette’ ring-headed copper-alloy (tinned) pin, fragments of ceramic crucibles, a stone ingot mould, a fragment of a rotary quern, fragments of shale armlets and a corded-shale or -jet ring fragment. Sherds of late Roman colour-coated pottery were also recovered and a single sherd of E-ware pottery. Other finds included a melon bead, fragments of glass vessels and two glass armlets.

To the W of the main trench a possible robbed cairn was exposed, which incorporated a stone setting or cist with deposits of cremated bone in association with a bone pin and a fragment of shale armlet. Upwards of 60 community volunteers and 7 secondary schools participated in the excavation.

Archive: Falkland Estate (deposited), NRHE and Fife Council (both intended)

Funder: Heritage Lottery Fund, Fife Council, Historic Environment Scotland, and Hunter Archaeological and Historical Trust

Oliver O’Grady and Joe FitzPatrick – OJT Heritage and Falkland Stewardship Trust

(Source: DES, Volume 18)

Field Visit (May 2019)

This multivallate fort and annexe occupies the summit and SE flank of East Lomond (434m OD), a volcanic plug that rises from the eastern end of the Lomond Hills, commanding extensive views in all directions. On the summit lies a small pear-shaped enclosure, with at least three further banks traceable on the steep rocky flanks, each of which is accompanied by evidence for quarrying. Geophysical survey and excavation have shown that the annexe, an enclosed terrace on the SE, was also utilised in prehistory, the whole comprising a complex site with a long history.

The summit enclosure (I on the plan) measures about 60m from NW to SE by 34m at the widest point (0.14 ha) within a grass-grown spread of stone up to 7m thick and 1.2m in height. This bank is best preserved on the NW, the remaining sectors being affected to varying degrees by collapse, stone-robbing and erosion by footpaths. No entrance is visible, but the interior contains the remains of a large prehistoric cairn surmounted by a viewfinder (NO20NW 144), shallow quarries, and two relatively modern pits.

A second line of defence (II), now comprising a grass-grown stony bank reduced to little more than a terrace up to 8m thick and 0.6m high, encloses a pear-shaped area measuring 90m from NW to SE by 60m transversely (0.41ha). It is not clear what relationship this line of defence has to the innermost. No entrance is visible, and the features that are visible between the first and second lines of defence are limited to quarries and a pit.

A third line of defence (III) encloses an irregular area measuring 125m from WNW to ESE by up to 100m transversely (1ha) within a grass-grown, largely stone-free bank up to 7m thick and 0.8m high. There is an entrance on the ENE, which is mutilated by a modern path and measures 2m in width. To the S of this the bank climbs the hill and may overlie the inner bank (II); beyond this, the bank cannot be traced across the steeper S flank. There is no evidence for the ‘line of approach’ identified in 1933 on the SW, or a series of four scarps below (cf. RCAHMS 1933, 144, Fig. 286). Running between the second and third lines of defence on the N flank of the hill is a gently arcing heather- and grass-grown bank and ditch that overlies the second defence at its S end.

The most striking feature of East Lomond’s defences is a dog-legged outwork, ‘a ravelin, which would not disgrace a modern engineer’ (Miller 1857, 33), which marks a fourth line (IV) on the S flank. This comprises a grass-grown bank, measuring up to 3m thick and 1.1m in high, and an external V-shaped ditch up to 7m broad and up to about 0.7m deep, which run for at least 165m along the SW and S flank before terminating at what may mark one side of an entrance. Some 13m to the E, what is probably the continuation of this bank can be traced as a scarp for about 50m, stopping as the slopes on the E flank of the hill steepen; there is no surface evidence that this feature continued around the E and N flanks of the hill (contra RCAHMS 1933, Fig. 286). Two ‘lines of terracing’ (RCAHMS 1933, 143) or ‘extra defences’ (OS 1968) which lie further downslope, some 140m ENE of the summit, are identified here as post-medieval trackways related to the quarrying of scree (NO20NW 148).

First mentioned by R Dickson (OS 1968) and lying outside this fourth line of defence on the SE flank of the hill, there is an annexe that measures about 150m from NW to SE by 120m transversely (1.1ha). It is bounded on the NE, SE and SW by the intermittent remains of a wall (V) reduced to a scarp about 2m in thickness and 0.8m high. It may be that this wall once abutted the fourth line of defence (IV), although the ditch of the latter feature may have been recut, creating some ambiguity in this relationship. There is an entrance on the SE at a point where a probably natural gully extends on to the terrace. A hollow trackway runs along the gulley and extends towards the possible entrance in the fourth defence. The hollow trackway continues outside the annexe for at least 80m to the SE. No other features are visible in the interior, but a rectangular enclosure of unknown date and function is recorded on a vertical aerial photograph taken in 1946 (106G/Scot/UK/0051, 4403).

Led by Dr Oliver O’Grady and Joe Fitzpatrick, excavations within the terrace annexe since 2014 have revealed a Bronze Age burial and evidence of occupation and industrial activity from the 1st century BC to the 7th century AD (DES 2016, 83; 2017, 95), demonstrating the importance of the fort on East Lomond, which is comparable in its size and the complexity of its defences to the other well-known forts in Fife at Clatchard Craig (NO21NW 18) and Norman’s Law (NO32SW 22).

Visited by HES Survey and Recording (ATW, LB, AM) May 2019.


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