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Bute, 'castle Cree'

Dun (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Bute, 'castle Cree'

Classification Dun (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Upper Ardroscadale, Mackie's Castle

Canmore ID 40441

Site Number NS06SW 8

NGR NS 03564 64133

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/40441

Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish North Bute
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Buteshire

Archaeology Notes

NS06SW 8 03564 64133

(NS 0355 6411) Castle Cree (NR).

OS 6" map (1957)

Castle Cree occupies the summit of a huge rock rising almost perpendicularly on three sides for about 50' above the surrounding ground. On the fourth side the rock is separated from the high ridge to the E by a deep natural ditch. Without excavation, it is not possible to say whether all, or only apart of the summit area was walled At the E apex, three portions of the dry-stone wall still stand 4-5' high, over 20' thick apparently forming a chamber, 11' in internal diameter. Elsewhere, the wall is 11' thick.

J K Hewison 1893.

NS 0356 6413 Castle Cree (name verified), an oval dun situated on a near vertical rock stack (protruding from a raised beach) which is joined to the coastal cliff by a narrow neck of land. Its ruinous walls, up to 4.0m wide and 0.5m high, are best preserved in the N and E where several courses of masonry are visible, whilst in the S much of it has tumbled to the base of the stack and on the W it is barely visible. The enclosed area of 19.8m WSW-ENE by 6.2m transversely is sub-divided by two internal walls (aligned N-S); one, 3.0m from the E end is 1.0m wide and up to 0.5m high whilst the other is 9.0m from the W end and is barely traceable.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (TRG), 18 November 1976.

This site was noted during a coastal zone assessment survey undertaken by CFA Archaeology Ltd to characterise the state of coastal erosion and the threat it poses to cultural heritage sites. A gazetteer in the report included a note of existing records and new sites when discovered. Where the site was located, notes included condition, period/date and recommendations.

Commissioned by The Scape Trust and Firth of Clyde Forum on behalf of Historic Scotland.

M Cressey and M Johnson 2004 (MS/2256).

What are probably the remains of a dun, less likely a structure of medieval date, are situated on a steep-sided promontory that projects W from the raised shoreline some 400m SW of Upper Ardroscadale farmsteading (NS06SW 33). The site, which overlooks an area of ridged cultivation (NS06SW 42), remains as described by the Ordnance Survey in 1976.

The dun is probably the ‘small retreat’ called ‘Mackie’s Castle’ mentioned by Blain, writing before 1820 (1880, 91). It is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Argyllshire and Buteshire 1869, Sheet CCIII) and named ‘Castle Cree’. The contemporary Name Book (No.5, p.48) noted that the name ‘Castle Cree’ is derived from an unspecified estate map, but provided little detail of the actual site.

Visited by RCAHMS (GFG, JMH), 6 May 2009.

Activities

Reference (1855)

Field Visit (1863)

Reference (1880)

Field Visit (28 May 1943)

This site was recorded as part of the RCAHMS Emergency Survey, undertaken by Angus Graham and Vere Gordon Childe during World War 2. The project archive has been catalogued during 2013-2014 and the material, which includes notebooks, manuscripts, typescripts, plans and photographs, is now available online.

Information from RCAHMS (GF Geddes) 2 December 2014.

Desk Based Assessment (31 August 1972)

(NS 0355 6411) Castle Cree (NR).

OS 6" map (1957)

Castle Cree occupies the summit of a huge rock rising almost perpendicularly on three sides for about 50' above the surrounding ground. On the fourth side the rock is separated from the high ridge to the E by a deep natural ditch. Without excavation, it is not possible to say whether all, or only apart of the summit area was walled At the E apex, three portions of the dry-stone wall still stand 4-5' high, over 20' thick apparently forming a chamber, 11' in internal diameter. Elsewhere, the wall is 11' thick.

Information from OS (IF) 31 August 1972

J K Hewison 1893

Field Visit (18 November 1976)

NS 0356 6413 Castle Cree (name verified), an oval dun situated on a near vertical rock stack (protruding from a raised beach) which is joined to the coastal cliff by a narrow neck of land. Its ruinous walls, up to 4.0m wide and 0.5m high, are best preserved in the N and E where several courses of masonry are visible, whilst in the S much of it has tumbled to the base of the stack and on the W it is barely visible. The enclosed area of 19.8m WSW-ENE by 6.2m transversely is sub-divided by two internal walls (aligned N-S); one, 3.0m from the E end is 1.0m wide and up to 0.5m high whilst the other is 9.0m from the W end and is barely traceable.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (TRG) 18 November 1976

Field Visit (December 2003)

This site was noted during a coastal zone assessment survey undertaken by CFA Archaeology Ltd to characterise the state of coastal erosion and the threat it poses to cultural heritage sites. A gazetteer in the report included a note of existing records and new sites when discovered. Where the site was located, notes included condition, period/date and recommendations.

Commissioned by The Scape Trust and Firth of Clyde Forum on behalf of Historic Scotland.

Cressey and Johnson 2004

Field Visit (6 May 2009)

What are probably the remains of a dun, less likely a structure of medieval date, are situated on a steep-sided promontory that projects W from the raised shoreline some 400m SW of Upper Ardroscadale farmsteading (NS06SW 33). The site, which overlooks an area of ridged cultivation (NS06SW 42), remains as described by the Ordnance Survey in 1976.

The dun is probably the ‘small retreat’ called ‘Mackie’s Castle’ mentioned by Blain, writing before 1820 (1880, 91). It is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Argyllshire and Buteshire 1869, Sheet CCIII) and named ‘Castle Cree’. The contemporary Name Book (No.5, p.48) noted that the name ‘Castle Cree’ is derived from an unspecified estate map, but provided little detail of the actual site.

Visited by RCAHMS (GFG, JMH), 6 May 2009.

Measured Survey (2009 - 2010)

A series of measured drawings undertaken as part of ACFA's CARES project.

Field Visit (2009 - 2010)

This fortified site was described and planned by J K Hewison (Hewison, 1893), and his account is still broadly accurate. It occupies the top of a narrow E-W running spur of rock partly detached from the cliff face behind it, and accessible only by sloping ground at its E end. All the other sides of the spur drop almost vertically. The level area at the top, an elongated diamond shape, measures 30m E-W by 12m N-S at its widest point. A broad stone turf-topped rampart encloses the whole area except at the W end where the stonework stops 6m short of the edge. The rampart is well built of drystone masonry 2m wide. The interior of the fort is choked with bracken and bramble, and even in the spring it is impossible to see the full height of the walls and difficult to interpret the internal stonework. The best-exposed section of wall is on the N side, where 4 or 5 courses, standing to 0.7m high, can be seen.

Two crosswalls are shown on Hewison’s 1893 plan, one at the E end and another across the widest point, but today heaps of loose stone in the interior mask these features. Some 4.5m from the E end a crosswall can be seen leaving the N wall in a slight curve before being lost in tumble, while at the widest point of the interior there is simply a broad band of tumbled stone under the bracken. At the W end, facing the sea, the rampart wall is barely discernible, and beyond it is an area of collapsed stone through which a few set stones are visible on the N side. The E end of the rampart forms a peak, standing 1.2m high.

It has been suggested that this fort may be of early medieval date rather than Iron Age.The ground between Castle Cree is level and relatively stone-free. An area of faint rig-and-furrow cultivation, now gradually being lost among bracken and reeds, is clearly visible from the fort, and on the shore a small gap in the rocky shoreline appears to have been cleared of stones, perhaps to enable boats to launch and land. It seems likely, though unproven, that these features are associated with the fort.

References

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