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Wardlaw Hill

Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Wardlaw Hill

Classification Fort (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 41985

Site Number NS33SE 5

NGR NS 3592 3276

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council South Ayrshire
  • Parish Dundonald (Kyle And Carrick)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Kyle And Carrick
  • Former County Ayrshire

Archaeology Notes

NS33SE 5 3592 3276.

(NS 3592 3276) Fort (NR)

OS 6" map (1967)

The remains of a fort crown Wardlaw Hill, the highest summit of the Dundonald range, which consists of an oval plateau measuring 340ft NE-SW by 200ft transversely. Parts of the rim of this are bordered by the remains of a stony, grass-covered rampart which stands to a height of 5ft at best, and is spread to as much as 20ft in width.

R W Feachem 1963; D Christison 1893

A short stretch of rampart 0.5m high, which has continued to curve round the top of the hill to the S and E as here there are traces of what appears to be walling and an artificially scarped slope on the SW, 1.7m high, running round untl the rocky escarpment on the S is encountered. Above this stretch of cliff is the faint course of a wall curving for a few metres in the direction of the NE corner of the extant rampart. From general appearances, this earthwork is similar in character to NS33SE 6, a few hundred metres S, but is on a much smaller scale.

Visited by OS (JLD) 28 May 1954

A fort, situated as described on a level summit at about 145m OD. Lacking any certain detail around its E side, it can only be estimated as measuring internally some 70m NE-SW by 60m transversely, and is bounded by a turf-covered rampart and cut-back scarp, up to 2.8m high externally, around the N and W sides, of easiest approach. There is also the suggestion of an outer ditch and upcast bank around the W side. Minimum defences would be required around the steep natural slopes of the S and E sides; a faint undulation in the SE may indicate a former curving wall line.

The rampart on the N side fades slightly to terminate at a circular stony mound, 8.5m in overall diameter and up to 1.1m high on its N side, with an excavated central depression. OS 1st Edition 25" (1860) shows this to be the position of the original Wardlaw Hill triangulation station and it is possible that this was a support mound.

Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (JRL) 5 May 1982

A rough circular fort, measuring about 60m in internal diameter, is situated on the summit of Wardlaw Hill. The E half of the defences has been obliterated, but on the NW there is an earthern rampart (about 4.5m thick by 0.6m high) which extends around the SW as a scarp up to 2.5m high. A short length of external ditch is visible on the NW, and also around the SW; on the latter it is about 4.5m broad and there is an external rampart 5m thick by 0.5m high.

RCAHMS 1985, visited (SH) October 1985


Field Visit (25 May 1952)

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 (2 August 2014 - 16 November 2016)

The remains of this fort are situated on the summit of Wardlaw Hill, but its defences are heavily reduced by cultivation, so much so that the precise course of the eastern half is unknown. Nevertheless, the interior is probably oval on plan, measuring up to 95m from NE to SW by 60m transversely within a rampart up to 4.5m in thickness by 0.6m in height. This is best preserved on the NW, but can be traced as a scarp some 2.5m in height around the SW quarter, where there is also evidence of a ditch 4.5m in breadth and a counterscarp rampart 5m in thickness by 0.5m in height. The interior is featureless and the position of the entrance is unknown. A trial excavation on the NW in 1985 demonstrated that the rampart is constructed of earth and stone and overlies an earlier bank, which was already heavily denuded and spread at the time of the rampart's construction (Halpin 1992, 121-6). The earlier bank seems to have been constructed of material stripped from the surfaces both inside and outside its line, whereas the later rampart had a core of large stones and boulders. The excavator suggested that two narrow, stone-lined trenches set about 2m apart immediately within the interior may have held upright timbers revetting the rampart, but while these were apparently cut through deposits washed off the earlier bank there is no compelling evidence to relate them to the structure of the rampart, nor indeed that they held timberwork.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 16 November 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC1329


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