Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Greenan Castle

Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Greenan Castle

Classification Fort (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 41607

Site Number NS31NW 27

NGR NS 31220 19270

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council South Ayrshire
  • Parish Maybole
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Kyle And Carrick
  • Former County Ayrshire

Archaeology Notes

NS31NW 27 3122 1927

NS 312 192. Fort, Greenan: visible on RCAHMS air photographs, taken in 1978.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

There are no surface traces of this fort in a level arable field at c.15m OD.

The APs show cropmarks of four concentric curving ditches up to 100m long and averaging some 3m wide, cutting off a headland now occupied by Greenan Castle and probable medieval earthworks (see NS31NW 1).

There is a straight entrance break in all the ditches on the NE side, near the cliff edge. At the SW end the inner two ditches have probably been truncated by the medieval outwork ditch, and the outer two end against a natural scarp.

In all, the work represents a promontory fort enclosing an area of some 70 by 60m (0.4 hectares).

Visited by OS (JRL) 2 October 1980

Copmarks have revealed the defences of a fort pre-dating the medieval earthworks at Greenan Castle (NS31NW 1). The stone castle stands at the seaward end of a precipitous promontory, which is cut off by the massive defensive ditches of an earlier earthwork castle. The cropmarks show a further four ditches cutting across the promontory in the cultivated field immediately to the SE; on the W the innermost ditch is cut by the outer medieval ditch. All that is now visible of these defences are the scars of ditches 2 and 4 where they open on to the cliff-edge on the NE; the former is about 4.4m broad, the latter 3.7m broad.

An entrance causeway runs through the ditches about 20m SW of the cliff on the NE; the terminals of ditches 1 and 2 are directly opposed to each other, but those ditches 3 and 4 are slightly staggered. The cropmarks also reveal possible traces of a palisade trench within ditch 1 at the entrance and between ditches 1 and 2, but similar features apparently set immediately outside both ditches 2 and 3 may result from the truncated stratigraphy within the ditches. The ditches cut off an area measuring about 100m from NW to SE by a maximum of 75m transversely.

RCAHMS 1985, visited (SH) March 1985

NS 311 193 An archaeological evaluation consisting of a desk assessment and trial trenching was carried out at the Lands of Greenan in advance of the proposed development of a golf course. The Scheduled Greenan Castle was outwith the development area but was still a dominant feature within the landscape. Earthworks in the vicinity of the Scheduled area proved to be natural features. Trial trenching throughout the development area of features identified from aerial photographs proved that they were natural, but archaeological activity dating from the prehistoric period was apparent in a number of areas. A visual inspection of the ruins of Greenan House established that no definite earlier remains could be identified. A number of artefacts were recovered from the trial trenching and informal fieldwalking, varying from prehistoric lithics to WWII gun cartridges.

Sponsor: South Ayrshire Council.

B Simpson 1998


Note (31 July 2014 - 23 May 2016)

Greenan Castle, a late 16th or early 17th century tower-house standing at the seaward end of this promontory, occupies the site of an earlier earthwork castle, which in its turn was built within the defences of an earlier fort, the latter known only from cropmarks. The remains of the earthwork castle are still visible, comprising a massive ditch 23m broad and 2m deep cutting off an area measuring 28m by 16m at the tip of the promontory, flanked on its landward side by a bailey measuring 70m from E to W by 26m transversely within a ditch some 13.7m in breadth by 3m in depth. The latter ditch is set immediately to the rear of the fort defences, which themselves comprise four ditches and at least two palisade trenches drawn in a shallow arc across the neck of the promontory. The W end of the innermost ditch of the fort is clipped by the bailey, but the scars of the second ditch and the outermost can still be detected at the cliff-edge on the NE, where the former is some 4.4m in breadth and the latter 3.7m. The interior, which is entirely occupied by the medieval castle, measures about 100m from NW to SE by a maximum of 75m transversely (0.59ha). An entrance causeway penetrates all four ditches close to the NE margin of the promontory, and at its outer end appears to be protected by a small hornwork springing from the W terminal of the outermost ditch.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 23 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC1289


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions