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Fort (Iron Age)

Site Name Carman

Classification Fort (Iron Age)

Canmore ID 42357

Site Number NS37NE 2

NGR NS 3720 7944

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council West Dunbartonshire
  • Parish Bonhill (West Dunbartonshire)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Dumbarton
  • Former County Dunbartonshire

Archaeology Notes

NS37NE 2 3720 7944.

(Name NS 3715 7947) Carman (NAT)

OS 6" map (1923).

Citadel Fort of Dark Age type C measuring 150 yards in diameter, with stone ramparts, ditches, and sunken approach roads. (Information from J G Scott, Curator, Department of Archaeology, Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow) Discovered by Dr K A Steer on air photographs in 1954.

Visited by OS (JLD) 26 September 1956.

Centred NS 3720 7944. This is a large fortification on top of a hill, measuring approximately 180 x 140m overall. The defences comprise a 'citadel' situated on the north side of the area, and occupying the highest part of the hill; and two strong walls on the east, but at a lower level on the gentle slope of the hill. On the south, the course of a wall can be traced on the edge of a scarp. On the west, a hollow-way leads up to the fort, but this may be of recent origin. On the north, is a terrace which bifurcates at the NW corner of the citadel. There are two entrances through the outer defences in the southern half of the fort, one on the west side, the other on the SE. The citadel measures 55 x 40m internally, with an entrance in the SW segment, and a possible second one in the SE segment. The interior of the citadel is covered with boulders and rock outcrop, and there are slight indications of a possible inner wall within the west and south sides of it.

Visited by OS (JLD) 27 September 1956

Fort: Carman, is considered worthy of preservation.


The remains of this fort are generally as described by OS (JLD). Fifteen hut circles are shown on RCAHMS Marginal Lands Survey plan, but only eleven were located at time of visit.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 1 February 1963.

NS 371 794 This fort stands at a height of 230m OD overlooking the Firth of Clyde. The defences comprise two distinct elements, an inner enclosure or citadel, and an outer enclosure with an annexe on the E. Within the outer enclosure there are the remains of up to twelve stone-walled houses and there are a further three in the annexe.


R W Feachem 1966


Field Visit (4 October 1955)

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.

Reference (1957)

This site is noted in the ‘List of monuments discovered during the survey of marginal land (1951-5)’ (RCAHMS 1957, xiv-xviii).

Information from RCAHMS (GFG), 24 October 2012.

Note (4 August 2014 - 11 August 2016)

This fort is situated on Carman, the southernmost and lowest of the rounded summits of a ridge of hills due W of Alexandria. Its defences comprise two main elements, with a relatively small inner enclosure standing on the N side of a much larger outer work, and though their perimeters coincide upon the N, the relationship between them is unknown. The inner enclosure is oval on plan, measuring about 55m from E to W by 40m transversely (0.17ha) within a heavily-robbed wall some 3m in thickness; large sectors of the wall have been all but removed, but where best preserved, on the W, it forms a bank up to 0.9m in height, along which occasional inner and outer facing-stones are visible, and on the W and S there are also traces of shallow internal quarries. Of the two gaps in the perimeter, on the SE and SW respectively, the latter is probably the original entrance. The interior is featureless. The outer enclosure measures about 145m from NW to SE by 130m transversely (1.5ha) within a wall reduced to a band of rubble about 2.4m in thickness, along which stones of both faces can be seen, including a substantial run of the outer face on the SW. Apparently butting onto this wall on the NE and SE is an outer wall, which forms an annexe from 10m broad on the SE to 20m on the NE, but in this sector both walls are reduced largely to scarps strewn haphazardly with large slabs and boulders up to 1.5m in length by 1.2m in breadth. Of the four gaps in the rampart shown on the plan drawn up by RCAHMS in 1955, three, on the NE, S and W respectively, roughly occurring at the extreme corners of the enclosure, appear to be original, with evidence of wear by traffic. That on the NE has a corresponding gap in the outer wall, as does the fourth gap on the E. The fort evidently stands on the route of a relatively easy passage across the hills and there are a series of hollowed trackways crossing the saddle to the N and possibly including the hollowed way extending up to the entrance on the W and another feature variously forming a terrace and a hollow that was described by the RCAHMS investigators extending along the N flank of the fort immediately below the perimeter. Within the interior there are at least twelve house platforms, while another three possible examples lie within the annexe on the E.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 11 August 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC1338


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