Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Danes Dike

Earthwork (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Danes Dike

Classification Earthwork (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Dane's Dyke

Canmore ID 35355

Site Number NO60NW 5

NGR NO 6324 0984

NGR Description From NO 6324 0984 to NO 6353 0945

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2024.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Crail
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NO60NW 5 6324 0984 to 6353 0945.

(Name: NO 6336 0966) Danes Dike (NR)

OS 6" map (1919)

The Danes Dike is a bank or wall extending from the farm of Craighead south-eastwards right down to the foreshore.

At one time the north end terminated at a rock in the north face of which is Constantine's Cave (NO61SW 6).

It is built of flat stones, without cement, and is grass-grown. Part remains as a bank or wall about 4ft high and averaging about 10ft 6 ins in width, and part, somewhat lower, serves as the foundation of a farm road. The work originally cut off the whole promontory of Fife Ness and is popularly ascribed to Danish invaders.

RCAHMS 1933; J Mackinlay 1862

From NO 6324 0984 to NO 6338 0962 Danes Dike is a grass-covered bank, 4.0m wide, retained on both sides by a vertical wall, probalbly of comparatively recent construction, that on the NE being 2.0m high and that on the SW 1.0m. A sunken farm track runs along the top.

From NO 6338 0962 to NO 6353 0945 the bank is reduced to a platform of unsurveyable height along the edge of a field, still with a farm track along the top.

At the SE end the bank curves to the east, where it joins the old raised beach. Towards the NW it disappears beneath Craighead farmbuildings and a golf course.

Visited by OS (DS) 15 October 1956

No change.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 27 August 1968

NO 6323 0985 A power cable trench, approximately 1m wide, was machine-excavated across parts of the Danes Dike, a linear earthwork and scheduled ancient monument. The work was monitored by Headland Archaeology Ltd.

In the S facing section, fragments of what are considered to represent surviving elements of the Danes Dike were identified and recorded. The dike appears to have comprised a solid stone core, roughly 3.4m wide, overlain with redeposited natural sands and gravels. No buried soil was evident beneath the feature, the dike having been erected directly over the natural subsoil.

The tentative identification of the stone-cored feature and overlying gravel upcast as the remains of the Danes Dike runs counter to the results of a geophysical survey which have advocated a course to the SW of Craighead farmhouse.

Outwith the scheduled area, a large pit was located in the W facing side of the cable trench at approximately NO 6332 0985.

Sponsor: Crail Golfing Society.

C Lowe 1997

NO 6320 0983 Observation of a narrow machine trench, excavated to receive a new foul water drain and connecting man-hole, revealed a deep profile with many large stones overlying a broken surface of road tarmac. This indicates that much of the upstanding dyke in this area is of recent build. However, this layer of road material overlay a concentration of large boulders located towards the centre of the trench. These may represent the same feature observed in a similar trench reported in 1997 (DES 1997, 35). If so, then it seems reasonable, with the same tentativeness as the author of that report, to identify a stone-built linear feature surviving at the core of the present dyke.

No dating material or artefacts were recovered.

Sponsor: HS.

L Roger and R McCullagh 2004


Field Visit (6 July 1925)

Danes Dike, near Craighead.

The Danes Dike is the name given to a bank or wall, rising about 4 feet in height and averaging about 10 feet 6 inches in width, which can still be distinctly traced running from the farm of Craighead in a south-easterly direction right down to the foreshore. It is believed to have extended at one time farther to the north-west, so as to touch the coast again in the neighbourhood of Constantine's Cave and thus enclose the whole promontory of Fife Ness, but no traces of any such extension are now visible. As it approaches the sea, it comes up against an abrupt rocky ridge close to the shore, where it takes a sharp bend to the south and then gradually diminishes in width until it mingles with other narrow and low spread ridges of considerable extent and indefinite character on the flat ground along the beach. Throughout it is now almost entirely grass-grown and has a very insignificant appearance. In its original state, however, it must have' formed a barrier of some strength. It is popularly ascribed to Danish invaders. See Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot.,vol. iii (1857-60), pp. 209-211.

RCAHMS 1933, visited 6 July 1925.

Watching Brief (1996)

NO 634 097 (centre) During a watching brief by Headland Archaeology Ltd of the construction of a new golf course at Balcomie, Fife Ness, three prehistoric sites were discovered and excavated. In addition a section on the E side of Dane's Dike was recorded. The development occupied an area of some 35ha to the S of Craighead Farm. In addition to the sites mentioned above, a series of pits were encountered.

Dane's Dike section (NO 6327 0980) In connection with the installation of irrigation for the golf course, a section was cut up to the edge of the revetting wall on the E side of the dike. The section showed a lower dark brown layer with traces of charcoal, interpreted as a buried ground surface. This was overlain by a wedge of yellow-brown mixed gravel, interpreted as redeposited till, into which the Victorian revetting wall was cut. This layer may represent material having slumped from the dike, indicating that it was mainly built from subsoil which was gathered from either side. There was no trace of a ditch in the areas opened up on either side of the dike.

Sponsor: Crail Golfing Society.

M Dalland 1996

Watching Brief (18 November 2013 - 7 October 2014)

Alder Archaeology was commissioned to undertake an archaeological watching brief on a foul water trench cut through Danes Dike scheduled monument 6367, a linear feature located on the golf course road at Balcomie Road, Crail. The watching brief was centred on NO 6320 0988. The work (site code CR06) was undertaken during the period 18th Nov 2013 and the 25th April 2014 in variable weather conditions. Part of the foul water trench carried a duct for an electric cable and the monitoring also included a short length of trench to join the electric cable to the existing supply. A later unexpected phase of monitoring was undertaken during the period 1st to the 7th October 2014 when the foul water trench at the S end of the works was re-excavated and realigned and two new manholes excavated.

The requirement of the monitoring was to undertake a watching brief on the machine excavation of the trench for the insertion of a foul water drain. Alder concluded that in the foul water and electric cable trenches nothing of archaeological significance was identified during this phase of the watching brief. Occasional possible earlier surfaces were identified below the modern makeup for the tarmac but these most likely related to earlier phases of the road in modern times as the adjacent Craighead Farm developed. Nothing that could be related to the structure of Danes Dike, such as walling, wall core or a ditch, was identified during this phase. The deposits and bedrock encountered elsewhere further to the N all appeared to be the result of natural activity. Apart from the very occasional modern pottery sherd no dating evidence was recovered.

However, the final, unexpected, phase of the watching brief resulted in the exposure of a substantial concentration of sandstone boulders in the south of the site. As these were close-set and occurred on the expected line of the Danes Dike they may have represented part of a core of the Dike feature at a base level. Again, dateable material and relict ground surfaces were absent; it was therefore not possible to entirely discount the possibility of natural origin, but the concentrated nature of the deposit did suggest it was probably anthropogenic.

It was concluded that whatever structure may have originally represented Danes Dike must have been completely levelled and cleared to make way for the Craighead Farm buildings and the adjacent road apart from at the S end of the site, where the lowest courses of a core may have survived at a subterranean level.

Information from Ray Cachart (Alder Archaeology Ltd).


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions