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Arran, Brodick Castle, Wet Ditch

Ditch (Medieval)(Possible)

Site Name Arran, Brodick Castle, Wet Ditch

Classification Ditch (Medieval)(Possible)

Canmore ID 320841

Site Number NS03NW 107

NGR NS 01538 37886

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council North Ayrshire
  • Parish Kilbride
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Cunninghame
  • Former County Buteshire


Geophysical Survey (June 2001)

A geophysical survey at Brodick Castle (NMRS NS03NW 2) was undertaken in June 2001. The survey aimed to locate the ditches that defended the original 13th-century castle on the site but which were filled in during the 19th century. It was also hoped that the technique used would allow a 3-dimensional model of the bedrock around the site to be constructed, and possibly locate any remains which may be associated with a 'secret tunnel' that tradition says linked the castle to the shoreline. The work was conducted using a Wenner array capable of producing resistivity profiles down through the soil. Around 24 transects of different lengths were surveyed around the castle but focused on the flat area to the NW, outside the castle courtyard, and on the garden terraces to the SE. Initial results look promising, with the line of a wide ditch possibly being located to the NW.

Trial Trench (April 2003)

In a follow-up to the geophysical survey previously undertaken (DES 2001, 69-70), two trial trenches were excavated in April 2003 in a gap between the planted garden area to the W of the 19th-century courtyard wall at the rear of the castle. What appeared to be natural subsoil, a reddy-orange clay, was located 1.2m below the surface. Although the depth reached was limited, there was no clear evidence for the infilled castle ditch at this point, and it either lies closer to the castle or further W. Worked sandstone blocks may have derived from the medieval castle, but the ground was levelled in the 19th century and the area used as tennis courts. The finds from both trenches reflect this and include much 19th and 20th-century material, although there are a few sherds of medieval green-glazed oxidised ware.

Trial Trench (March 2004)

The foundations of the early 20th-century courtyard wall at the rear of the castle were investigated in March 2004. Severe cracking is visible in the walls on either side of the gateway, the cracks suggesting the wall foundations were built upon unconsolidated material, possibly an infilled medieval ditch.

Using a mini-digger, a trial trench was excavated in the middle of the courtyard entrance. Below the layers of road make-up and pipes were clear traces of the inner edge of a ditch. The natural boulder clay subsoil shelved away steeply precisely in line with the cracks in the wall. The presence of pipes and the proximity of the walls prevented further excavation in this area, but a new trench was dug by machine 10m to the NW of the first. This second trench was excavated to a depth of 1.6m without hitting subsoil, and was filled with a mixed layer of sandstone rubble and mortar. This must have been close to the middle of the ditch, and was full of demolition material from the old castle. The natural subsoil was located further to the W again and indicates that the ditch must be at least 20m wide.

Watching Brief (23 October 2014 - 26 November 2014)

Archaeological monitoring work was carried out for the National Trust for Scotland in the grounds of Brodick Castle, Arran. These works comprised the digging of two small test pits for the installation of lightning protection at the castle building itself, and the monitoring of eight trenches placed along the line of an existing water pipe in order to locate and repair a breakage. 19th century levelling deposits which incorporated material derived from the medieval castle were uncovered in two trenches located north of the courtyard buildings, and it is likely that one of these trenches was located on the line of the medieval ditch known to survive in this location. No previously unknown significant archaeological features were, however, identified, and no artefacts recovered during the course of the works.

Information from OASIS ID: rathmell1-202878 (T Rees) 2014


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