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'Maiden Castle', Bracks, Lomond Hills

Fort (Prehistoric)

Site Name 'Maiden Castle', Bracks, Lomond Hills

Classification Fort (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Bracks Plantation

Canmore ID 29936

Site Number NO20NW 7

NGR NO 2220 0688

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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 ( - 1972)

NO20NW 7 2220 0688.

(NO 2220 0688) Maiden Castle (Fort) (NR)

OS 6" map (1920)

'Maiden Castle occupies an oval hill along the northern brow of the hill; there are traces of huts having been excavated.'

Source: Miller 1857

The grassy hillock known as 'Maiden Castle' rises steeply from amidst the rougher ground between two low spurs of the Lomond Hills. The knoll is elliptical in outline with its major axis almost due E and W.

The flattened summit measures roughly 461' long by 114' maximum width. A single earthen rampart and inner ditch run along the N and S sides and there is some terracing about midway up the steeply sloping scarps at the WSW and ENE.

A 16' wide approach leads up to a W entrance, while at the E end a natural ridge leads into a 20' gap in the rampart and ditch.

Source: RCAHMS 1933

This earthwork is generally as described by RCAHMS. The main feature is its basal ditch which is well preserved around the N,S and E sides, and there is a well-defined entrance at the W end. At the E end, however, where access is comparatively easy, the ditch and entrance has the appearance of being unfinished. The terracing around the N and S sides probably represents an incomplete ditch, whilst around the summit are the slight remains of a marker trench. These remains are more pronounced where they adjoin the entrances at both ends. No certain traces of huts can be seen within the interior.

Though most of the surviving remains are strong and impressive, the site as a whole has the appearance of being an unfinished fort.

Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (ECW) 16 May 1972.


Field Visit (12 June 1925)

Fort, " Maiden Castle," Bracks, Lomond Hills.

A little over half a mile to the southwest of the Tyndall Bruce Monument, at an elevation of 900 feet above sea-level, a grassy hillock known as "Maiden Castle" rises steeply from amidst the rougher ground between two low spurs of the Lomond Hills (SC 1123653). The knoll is elliptical in outline, with the major axis almost due east and west, and the some somewhat flattened summit measures roughly 461 feet in length by 114 feet in greatest width. Apart from a single earthen rampart with a ditch on the inner side, which lies along the base of the hillock on the north and south sides, it shows little evidence of adaptation as a defensive site. There are, however, some slight indications of terracing about midway up the steeply sloping scarps at the west-south-west and east-north-east. Even so, the knoll, as a defensive site, could have derived little advantage from its position unless, as seems probable it was at one time mostly surrounded by water or marshy ground. Towards the south-east the ditch shows a well-defined traverse 18 feet in breadth. Rampart and ditch both die out to the west on either side of an approach, which has an average width of 16 feet and which curves up the slope of the knoll in a north-easterly direction. They are broken again at the opposite end by an entrance 20 feet wide, opening from a natural ridge which gives easy access from the east.

RCAHMS 1933, visited 12 June 1925.

Field Visit (19 April 1951)

This site was included within the RCAHMS Marginal Land Survey (1950-1962), 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 typecripts, notebooks and drawings can also be viewed in the RCAHMS search room.

Information from RCAHMS (GFG) 19 July 2013.

Publication Account (1987)

Maiden Castle is an isolated knoll which would in prehistoric times have been largely surrounded by marsh; the best-preserved part of the site is a rampart and ditch around the base of the hillock, but there are indications that there would originally have been other lines of defence higher up the flanks, though these are now indicated merely by scarps. The main entrance is at the east end, where there would have been an impressive gateway.

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

Note (12 June 2015 - 24 May 2016)

This fortification encloses a hillock on one of the northern spurs of the Lomond Hills. Oval on plan, it measures about 145m from ESE to WNW by 70m transversely within a ditch with an external bank, but there was probably once at least one rampart set back up the slope, traces of which survive as low terraces on the steep NE and SW flanks, while oblique aerial photographs taken by RCAHMS indicate an irregular line along the N and S margins of the flat summit, identified in 1972 by an OS surveyor as a marker trench, which is possibly the remains of another circuit. Taking this latter to represent a minimum extent for the interior, it measures about 120m in length by little more than 30m in breadth (0.35ha). There are gaps in the perimeter at either end, both with traces of trackways mounting the flank of the knoll, that on the W forming a terrace curling up the end of the knoll from the S. There are numerous irregularities across the summit but no clearly defined timber round-houses.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 24 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3119


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