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Castle Qua

Earthwork (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Castle Qua

Classification Earthwork (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 46570

Site Number NS84SE 1

NGR NS 8739 4491

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council South Lanarkshire
  • Parish Lanark
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Clydesdale
  • Former County Lanarkshire

Archaeology Notes

NS84SE 1 8739 4491.

(NS 8739 4491) Castle Qua (NR)

OS 6" map (1941)

The Castle of the Quaw, or Castle-dykes, is a stronghold bounded by traces of a double ditch on the land side, enclosing about half a rood of ground, and on the side next the river by a precipice some 200 feet high. There are no traces of buildings excepting some possible foundations, but there are some artificial caves or arched ways. One of them, which was opened, was about 7 or 8 feet in length, and 4 feet wide, running in a bending direction towards the centre of the inclosure from the brink of the rock ; the height about 3 1/2 feet. It was built of undressed stone in corbelled fashion and unmortared. In the bottom of the archway was a fat black earth intermixed with some bones in the state of ashes. Several other archways or holes like the above, running in different directions, still exist, although not hitherto explored. There are similar archways at Cairny Castle (NS84SE 5).

Statistical Account (OSA) 1795

Castle Qua is a promontory formed by a semicircular rampart and double ditch, about 8ft deep, which encircles a spur at the top of precipitous cliffs, on the N side of the Mouse Water. Its internal diameter is 25 to 30 paces from E to W. Inside are some hollows, doubtless the site of the 'vaults' referred to in the OSA. Some of the stone of the rampart is visible.

OS 6" map annotated by O G S Crawford, 9 September 1938.

This fort, generally as described above, measures internally 28m from E to W by 30m transversely. No stones were visible in the interior, though some hollows about 0.5m deep were apparent. Both ditches are about 0.8m wide; the outer one has been almost entirely ploughed out and is 0.8m maximum depth on the N.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (JLD) 15 February 1962

The earthworks at Castle Qua are thought to be almost certainly medieval.



Excavation (5 July 2017 - 25 August 2017)

NS 8318 4350 and NS 8739 4491 (NS84SW 2 and NS84SE 1) An excavation was undertaken, 5 July – 25 August 2017, at two hilltop enclosures close to Lanark - Castle Qua and Black Hill. The work formed part of CAVLP’s Investigating the Past project, which focused on the archaeology and landscape of the first millennia in the Clyde and Avon Valleys. The excavations involved members of local community groups, volunteers, service users from Phoenix Futures and volunteers from Clydesdale Community Initiatives as well as students and staff from the University of Glasgow’s Department of Archaeology.

At Castle Qua, one trench outside the large earthwork that defines the site revealed a substantial outer ditch, while a second trench inside the enclosure found the substantial stone foundations of a structure. Very few artefacts were discovered during the excavations and it is hoped that post-excavation analysis will identify suitable dating evidence.

Five trenches were excavated across key features on Black Hill, revealing detailed evidence for ramparts and earthworks. A trench was also excavated on top of the cairn that provides the NTS viewing point, confirming the supposition that it is a large and very substantial Bronze Age monument. A number of artefacts were recovered from Black Hill, including prehistoric pottery from beneath the rampart, which should allow for dating of this enigmatic hilltop site.

Archive: NRHE

Funder: Heritage Lottery Fund, LEADER and Historic Environment Scotland

Paul Murtagh – Northlight Heritage

(Source: DES, Volume 18)


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