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Oliver Castle

Fort (Pre-improvement)

Site Name Oliver Castle

Classification Fort (Pre-improvement)

Alternative Name(s) Nether Oliver Dod

Canmore ID 48510

Site Number NT02NE 1

NGR NT 0995 2506

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Tweedsmuir
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Tweeddale
  • Former County Peebles-shire

Archaeology Notes

NT02NE 1 0995 2506

(NT 0995 2506) Oliver Castle (NR) (site of)

OS 6" map (1962).

The fragmentary remains of a fort are situated on a low knoll on the SE end of Nether Oliver Dod. The site is protected on the SE by a long slope which falls 200ft to the floor of the valley of the River Tweed, but it is easily approached from all other directions. Stone-robbing and the construction of later building and enclosures, followed by tree-planting, felling and replanting, have caused severe damage.

The fort had two lines of defence (IA, IB) which enclose an area measuring about 200ft by 180ft. They now appear at best as grass-covered banks, the stony nature of which, coupled with the absence of quarry ditches, represent original entrances. On the E side of the interior, fronting on to the inner line of defence, there are three crescentic scarps which may mark the sites of timber houses contemporary with the fort.

Elsewhere in the interior, and spreading over the defences on to the ground to the SW of the fort, there are numerous banks, stony foundations and excavated hollows all of which are clearly later in date than the fort. About 4 acres of ground, formerly under cultivation are enclosed by a field boundary, the ends of which rest on the left bank of the Bield Burn. The site is traditionally supposed to have been occupied by the medieval castle of Oliver, which is mentioned in a document of c.1200. To judge from surface indications, however, none of the more recent remains seems likely to have formed part of a medieval castle, and without excavation, it is impossible to confirm the traditional identification of the site. (See also NT02NE 6)

J W Buchan and H Paton 1927; RCAHMS 1967, visited 1960 and 1961.

The remains of this fort are as described. The date of the later buildings and enclosures can only be determined by excavation, but it seems unlikely that they are associated with a medieval castle.

Surveyed at 1:10560.

Visited by OS (JP), 29 November 1974.


Note (5 October 2015 - 18 May 2016)

The heavily disturbed remains of a fort are visible in a small plantation that clothes a hillock that juts out from the hillside to the N of Oliver. Traditionally identified as the site of Oliver Castle (see RCAHMS 1967, 262-3, no.521), it appears to have been the site of a fermtoun before being planted with trees in the 19th century, but two ramparts can be discerned, both reduced to stony banks, the inner of which encloses a roughly circular area measuring about 65m in diameter (0.34ha). The outer rampart can be traced in an arc around the more vulnerable N flank, but it is uncertain whether it ever formed a complete circuit. There are several gaps in the circuit, notably on the NE and WNW, but without excavation it is impossible to determine whether either was an original entrance. Apart from the scoops and foundations of the later fermtoun that sprawl across the interior and the defences, there is a row three possible platforms for round-houses immediately to the rear of the inner rampart on the E.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 18 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3551

Sbc Note

Visibility: This is an upstanding earthwork or monument.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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