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An Dun, Cornhill Wood

Promontory Fort (Prehistoric)

Site Name An Dun, Cornhill Wood

Classification Promontory Fort (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 339438

Site Number NH45SE 57

NGR NH 4584 5196

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Urray (Ross And Cromarty)
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Ross And Cromarty
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty


Field Visit (3 September 1943)

This fort, which is simply indicated on the 6 in. OS map by the place-name 'An Dun', in Roman type, is situated on a ridge-like summit about 600 ft. high which rises from the right bank of the Orrin about half a mile NNW of Cornhill. The highest point of the ridge is at its W end, and from here it descends E for about 400 ft., with precipitous sides on the N and S, to the lip of the steep slope that falls in that direction towards the valley. About 100 ft. W of this lip the ridge is traversed by the innermost rampart of a system of defences which faces W towards the summit. The ridge here is about 90 ft. broad, and the rampart, which now consists of a mere rickle of stony debris with some traces of a built face showing on its W side, is 15 ft. thick on the axis of the ridge and markedly convex towards the W. Eleven feet outside the face of the first rampart the ground begins to slope upwards to the second, evidently another construction of stonework but largely overgrown; the actual inner edge of the rampart is 19 ft. outside the face of the first, while its crest, which is 5 ft. high, and its outer edge are, respectively, 7 ft. and 15 ft. further W. The crest of the second rampart is 3 ft. high. The second rampart crosses the ridge in the same manner as the first, and on the S side connects with another defensive bank which returns E to connect with the first rampart towards its S end. A third rampart, 9 ft. thick and 2 ft. 6 in. high, is met 11 ft. W of the outer edge of the second; this likewise spans the ridge, which is here narrowing, and returns E at its S end. In the returned portion two very large blocks of stone appear, one of them 5 ft. in length, and the outer face of the rampart is defined by a row of large rounded bouldres. The extreme W end of the defensive system consists of a D-shaped enclosure whcih projects 16 ft. along the axial line beyond the W face of the third rampart. This is of slighter construction than the rest of the works, and is the only part of them in which any wall appears along the lip of the precipitous N slope. A local tradition states that this enclosure has been used as a burying ground.

The foregoing account was prepared after an unavoidably hurried visit when the site was largely obscured by bracken; while it is probably correct in the main, many details may be wrong and a definitive description should be based on a proper survey. The general similarlity of this fort to the one on Craig Dhu, Kilmorack Parish, should be noted.

Visited by RCAHMS (AG) 3 September 1943.

Field Visit (28 February 2014)

This fort, which was first recorded by Angus Graham (RCAHMS) during the Emergency Surveys of 1943, occupies a promontory 80m E of the summit of An Dùn, where it lies within the southern part of Cornhill Wood at a height of about 230m OD. The promontory is defined by cliffs on the N and S and a steep slope on the E; on the W, where approach is easiest, three parallel walls have been drawn across the neck of the promontory, thus enclosing a roughly rectangular area measuring 52m from E to W by 29m transversely. The innermost wall measures about 20m in length and has collapsed to form a rubble spread up to 7m in thickness and 1.8m in height in which a line of outer facing-stones is visible 2m from the outer edge. This wall also appears to turn to the E at both ends, although it does not extend along either the N or S side. The second wall lies 4m from the first and comprises a grass-grown spread of rubble 5m in thickness and 1.2m in height, though the original thickness was probably nearer 2m. The third wall, which is situated 3m from the second, measures about 2.5m in thickness and 1m in height. The entrance to the fort may have been on the S, where the second and third walls stop short of the cliff-edge. No internal features were noted on the date of visit.

Visited by RCAHMS (GFG, JRS, IP) 28 February 2014.

Note (16 March 2017 - 16 March 2017)

This fort lies 80m E of the summit of An Dun, where cliffs on the N and S, and a steep slope falling away to the E form a promontory. Internally it measures about 52m from E to W by 29m transversely (0.15ha) and is defended by a band of three walls some 20m long by 21.5m deep barring access from the W. The innermost turns back briefly onto the N and S sides before disappearing, but the flanks are otherwise undefended. The walls are all reduced to mounds of rubble, but a line of outer facing-stones can be seen within the margin of the innermost, which rises 1.8m high and is spread 7m thick. The second wall lies 4m outside the first and is spread 5m in thickness by 1.2m in height, while the third, a further 3m to the exterior, about 2.5m in thickness by 1m in height. The two outer walls stop short of the cliff-edge on the S, possibly indicating the position of an entrance. The interior is featureless.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 16 March 2017. Atlas of Hillforts SC4381


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