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Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Craigluscar

Classification Fort (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Craigluscar Hill

Canmore ID 49667

Site Number NT09SE 1

NGR NT 0598 9094

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Dunfermline
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District Dunfermline
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NT09SE 1 0598 9094.

(NT 0598 9094) Fort (NR)

OS 6" map, (1967).

This fort occupies a position on top of Craigluscar Hill, about 700ft OD; it is defended by triple ramparts, except to SW, where there is a precipice. Its remains were excavated to some extent in 1944 and 1945. The innermost of the three lines of defence was found to be a stone-faced, rubble-cored wall 12ft thick. The medial rampart consisted of two parallel double rows of large laid stones separated by a space 3ft wide filled with clean loam and was considered to have been a twin palisade. The outer rampart, placed only on the N flank of the fort where approach is the easiest, was a decayed version of the innermost. The entrance in the inner rampart, 9ft in width, was narrowed to 6ft by a setting of four posts which must have held the gate structure, while that in the outer (medial) rampart was closed from inside by a gate supported on two posts. Shale rings and chipped stone discs found during the excavations were donated to the NMAS in 1973-4. The fort, which measures 175ft by 110ft, was tentatively suggested by Hogg to date within the 1st centuries B C and A D. (See plans)

RCAHMS 1933, visited 1925; A H A Hogg 1953; R W Feachem 1963; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1975 (Donations).

The scant remains of this fort are generally as described. A short length of the inner wall on the S side now appears as a very slight bank, as does much of the outer wall on the N side. The inner kerb face of the inner wall is clearly definable as a course of large stones on most of the N and E sides. The entrance is clearly marked by kerb stones.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (JLD) 28 March 1961.

An archaeological appreciation carried out by Edinburgh University in 1988 revealed only two main lines of defence, the medial rampart existing only as a break in slope which did not appear to continue round. As previous surveys have shown, there are no internal structures except for the remains of a small, stone built structure which the 1988 survey identifies as a shieling.

EUCFA 1988

A heavily robbed fort is situated at the top of Castle Craigs some 500m WNW of Craigluscar. The defences comprise three ramparts, which rest on the edge of the crags on the SE and W respectively, but they have now been reduced to little more than scarps and robber-trenches. They enclose an area measuring 51m from E to W by 34m transversely and there is a well-defined entrance on the E. The only structure visible within the interior is a small square hut at the edge of the crags.

Visited by RCAHMS (SH) August 1991.


Field Visit (22 July 1925)

Fort, Castle Craigs, Craigluscar Hill.

About2 50 yards north of the farn1 of Glassiebarns and a little over 600 yards north-west of Craigluscar is a prominent ridge with a precipitous rocky scar facing to the south-west. On the top of this there is an interesting fort. The ridge on which it has been built rises abruptly on the south and south-west from the 500 to the 700 feet level, and the crest is difficult of approach on all sides. Access to the fort is easiest from the east, along the highest part of the ridge, and here there is a well-defined entrance 10 feet wide. The construction is now largely obliterated. Enough, however, remains to indicate that it has consisted of three strong lines of walling, very skilfully adapted to the natural configuration of the ground and terminating at either end on the edge of the cliff. The triple circumvallation appears to have been complete, except for a short distance between the entrance and the rocky face at the south-east, where the outcrops provide a natural obstruction and where therefore the outermost of the three walls seems to have been omitted. Some very indefinite indications of a break at the west may possibly mark the position of a second entrance. In the centre of the main enclosure there are slight traces of a low platform. Nothing now remains of the walls but slight foundations. Thus, while their outline can still be followed, it is only at certain points that any satisfactory estimate of their original width can be formed. The innermost of the three has been the strongest, with an average thickness of 14 feet; the second has been, on an average, 10 feet thick and the third or outermost 8 feet. Near the edge of the precipice are the remains of a small square building of modern masonry. The dimensions of the innermost enclosed area are 150 feet from east-north-east to west-south-west by 112 feet from north-north-west to south-south-east.

RCAHMS 1933, visited 22 July 1925.

Field Visit (10 April 1951)

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 (14 July 2015 - 31 May 2016)

A small fortification is situated on the crest of the Castle Craigs above Craigluscar. Roughly oval on plan, it measures 51m from E to W by 34m transversely (0.12ha) within a belt of stone faced ramparts, which seems to terminate on the cliff-edge on both the SE and the W. On the N, where there are three, the belt is some 17.5m deep, but only two are clearly visible to either side of the entrance on the E, and it is uncertain whether the outer rampart continued round to the cliff-edge on the SE. The only feature visible within the interior is the footing of a square hut, which is probably associated with the shielings that have been recorded in the vicinity. There is no evidence to suggest that the three ramparts are not all part of a single defensive scheme, but a section cut in 1944-5 across the defences on the N by A H A Hogg revealed that each was of rather different character (1951, 167-8). Whereas the innermost was a well built rubble-cored wall 3.5m thick, with its outer face still standing 0.6m high, the middle rampart appears to have been constructed in two stages, with double rows of facing on either side and a core of yellow clay; the outermost was no more than a mound of rubble with a possible kerb. The general absence of fallen stone led Hogg to suggest that the ramparts were never very high, but there is extensive evidence of stone-robbing elsewhere on the circuit. Hogg also cleared the entrance. That in the middle rampart was a simple gap some 1.8m wide, and a single post-hole was found on the line of its S side a little way to the rear. The gap through the inner rampart was 2.7m wide, but a setting of four post-holes within the passage reduced the width to 1.8m, and a layer of charcoal lay on the slightly hollowed surface of the rock between them. The charcoal layer, and a deposit of burnt soil above it, which did not penetrate below some upright slabs leaning against the sides of the passage, was interpreted by Hogg as the remains of a covered bridge structure, but the presence of these upright slabs suggests that the history of this gateway may have been rather more complex. The only finds from the excavation were a broken shale ring from beneath the core of the middle rampart and a rough stone disc from the burnt earth in the gateway.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 31 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3178


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