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Barry Hill

Fort (Prehistoric), Millstone (Post Medieval)

Site Name Barry Hill

Classification Fort (Prehistoric), Millstone (Post Medieval)

Canmore ID 31061

Site Number NO25SE 23

NGR NO 2623 5038

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NO25SE 23.00 2623 5038

(NO 2623 5038) Fort (NR)

(NO 2614 5037) Well (NR)

OS 6" map (1926)

NO25SE 23.01 NO 262 503 Cup-Markings

See also NO25SE 26.

A timber-laced fort measuring internally c.200 ft. by 120 ft. Several subsidiary ramparts lie outside this, suggesting that the main wall may be secondary. A well-like hollow lies outside the W arc of the main wall but within the protection of an outer rampart.

A stone-walled "out-fort" which lay nearby is now destroyed. (See NO25SE 26).

D Christison 1900; R W Feachem 1963; R W Feachem 1966.

The timber-laced fort, consisting of a massive stone rampart showing clear signs of vitrifaction, and enclosing an area 78.0m E-W by 23.0m N-S, occupies the summit of Barry Hill. A slight ditch runs along the base of the slopes on the S and E sides. Additional defence is provided by an earth and stone rampart which runs from the foot of the slope on the NW along the edge of a low terrace on the S and terminates on steep natural slopes to the NE. A dip in this rampart at the SE corner, coinciding with a causeway across the ditch, clearly indicates the original entrance to the fort.

At a later date, a second rampart has been constructed from the foot of the slope at the SW of the fort, along the south side, where it overlies the earlier rampart, thence northward, within the line of the earlier rampart, to stop short of the natural slopes, where a new entrance has been formed. The original entrance is marked by a waisting in this rampart also.

To the W of the fort is a near circular pond or cistern enclosed within a slight earthen-banked annexe. It is not certain which period of construction this is associated with but the occurrence of ponds within timber-laced forts suggests that it belongs to the first phase. the "out-fort" is not associated with this work (see NO25SE 26).

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (JP) 13 October 1970


Field Visit (14 August 1942)

This site was included within the RCAHMS Emergency Survey (1942-3), an unpublished rescue project. Site descriptions, organised by county, vary from short notes to lengthy and full descriptions and are available to view online with contemporary sketches and photographs. The original typescripts, manuscripts, notebooks and photographs can also be consulted in the RCAHMS Search Room.

Information from RCAHMS (GFG) 10 December 2014.

Field Visit (19 July 1956)

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.

Measured Survey (18 April 1988 - 22 April 1988)

A detailed survey of this fort was carried out 18-22nd April 1988. This showed that the defences represented several periods of construction, although it is not possible to unravel the full sequence without excavation. A full description of the fort is contained in the Inventory for NE Perth. The principal elements are:-

1. A massive inner defence consisting of a ruinous wall now reduced to a mound of rubble more than 10m in thickness.

2. A substantial outwork, presumably contemporary with the inner wall, around S and E. This outwork, a bank up to 15m in thickness and from 3.5m to 1.2m in height, not only overlies an earlier rampart, but also contains a blocked entrance on the SE.

3. On the N and W there are remains of a further two ramparts which, together with the rampart buried by the outwork, probably belong to an earlier defensive scheme. The W of these two ramparts, which encloses an annexe containing a pond, can be shown to butt on to the rampart that extends along the N side of the fort. A millstone lies on a terrace below the S side of the fort; it was presumably quarried close by.

Visited by RCAHMS (SH) 18-22 April 1988.

RCAHMS 1990.

Note (12 May 2015 - 31 August 2016)

This fort encloses the summit of Barry Hill, a lower isolated hill separated from the Hill of Loyal and the rest of the Hill of Alyth on the W by the steep-sided gully that carries the public road northwards from Alyth into Glen Isla. The defences are evidently complex, but while the innermost enclosure and a substantial outer wall on the E and S might reasonably be presented as the final phase of construction, the extent and overall plan of the earlier circuits is unclear. The innermost enclosure stands on the summit and forms an elongated oval on plan, measuring 80m from E to W by 25m transversely (0.16ha) within what was probably a timber-laced wall reduced to a bank of rubble 10m in thickness and standing between 2m and 2.5m high internally. On the S and E the scree of rubble descends in excess of 6m into the bottom of an external ditch. Fragments of vitrifaction are scattered through the rubble and one larger mass is visible adjacent to what is probably an entrance causeway across the ditch at the ESE corner, though it is unclear how this provided access into the interior. The present entrance trackway extends along the lip of the natural slope on the N flank of the hill, apparently following an original route round the end of the outer defences, before turning to ride up onto the rubble of the inner wall. This route probably superseded an earlier trackway mounting the slope on the ESE, where it is clear that an entrance through the massive outwork 16m in thickness by from 3.5m to 1.2m in height that protects the E and S has been blocked. Further complexities in the accretion of these outer defences are provided by the irregularities along the course of the ditch, which may indicate episodes of re-cutting, and an outer rampart creating a feature akin to a bastion between the blocked entrance and the approach track that succeeded it on the N. At least three additional lines of defence that probably relate to earlier schemes can be seen at the W end, the upper of which extends the length of the N side and loops round the tip of a spur projecting towards the W above a deep hollow containing a pond in the W end of the hill. A second rampart is butted onto this upper line on the spur, dropping down southwards to enclose the pond within an annexe and possibly including an entrance on its S side before petering out eastwards, while on the slope above it in this sector, with an entrance on the W leading towards the pond, there is yet another arc of rampart; this last is perhaps overlain by the massive outwork of the inner fort. The only internal features within the upper enclosure are two shallow hollows, one of which appears subrectangular.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 31 August 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3063


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