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Dun (Period Unassigned)(Possible)

Site Name Dunnichen

Classification Dun (Period Unassigned)(Possible)

Canmore ID 34672

Site Number NO54NW 2

NGR NO 5058 4867

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Angus
  • Parish Dunnichen
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Angus
  • Former County Angus

Archaeology Notes

NO54NW 2 5058 4867.

(NO 5058 4867) Site of Tower (NAT)

Castle Hill (NAT)

OS 6" map, (1959)

The remains of the foundation 'of some ancient building' were visible here in 1791 (Statistical Account [OSA] 1791-9).

It had disappeared by 1833, where it is described as being a fort of unmortared stone 'similar to that on hill of Dunbarrow' (NO54NE 5).

By that time practically the whole of the site was occupied by 'the castle quarry', the workings of which had revealed, on the floor of the structure, a thick layer of wood ashes mixed with animal bones, and in one spot, a number of 'small golden bullets' (New Statistical Account [NSA] 1845).

This structure has been identified with the 'Dun Nechtain' associated with the 7th century battle (NO54NW 12), which is supposed to have been fought nearby.

Demolition and quarrying have wrought such devastation that people living below the site are unaware that any structure ever existed there. Remains are still visible however: a few stones and a broken line of what seems to have been a stone wall or earthwork. They stand on a small plateau which has its own water supply and which projects from the south side of the hill near but below the summit....Similar sites in Angus and Fife have been examined, and in one or two cases excavated and they appear to be Pictish dwelling sites of the Dark Ages (Wainwright 1948).

Statistical Account (OSA) 1791-9; NSA 1845; F T Wainwright 1948.

The walling mentioned by Wainwright (1948) appears to be modern, and runs along the crest of the quarry. There is no feature of any consequence here.

Visited by OS (JLD) 13 August 1958.

Field investigator (JLD) confirmed.

The topographical description given by Wainwright does not fit this site and he appears to be describing some other site. A perambulation of the south slopes of Dunnichen Hill and in the area centred on NO 5035 4930 found no trace of any structure. On the south slopes of Dunnichen Hill, however, is a broad terrace which follows the 700ft contour between NO 5073 4956 and NO 5092 4956. There is a spring about half way along the terrace but no trace of a wall or earthwork.

Visited by OS (WJD) 12 May 1966.


Field Visit (8 August 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.

Note (26 May 2015 - 31 May 2016)

A drystone enclosure likened to the small fortification on Dumbarrow Hill (Atlas no. 3076) was first noted in the late 18th century on Castle-Hill (Stat Acct, i, 1791, 419), which is the hillock forming a low spur at the foot of the S flank of Dunnichen Hill to the W of the village. In this instance, however, no detail of its character and dimensions are recorded, though its destruction by quarrying before 1833 revealed evidence of occupation: 'on its floor was found a thick bed of wood ashes, mixed with numerous bones, .... In one place there is said to have been found a number of golden bullets...' (NSA, xi, Forfar, 146). Its site was noted with a cross and the annotation 'Site of Tower' on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Forfar 1865, sheet 34.9), which perhaps implies that it was of relatively small diameter.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 31 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3079


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