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Kaimes Hill

Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Kaimes Hill

Classification Fort (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 50329

Site Number NT16NW 2

NGR NT 1315 6655

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Ratho
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Archaeology Notes

NT16NW 2 1315 6655.

(NT 1315 6655) Fort (NR)

OS 1:10000 map (1977)

The fort on Kaimes Hill is being destroyed by quarrying which will ultimately remove the whole of the hill. It was first planned by Coles (1896) and later by the RCAHMS before quarrying started. The first excavations were carried out by Childe (1941) in 1940, and further excavations have taken place from 1964-72. In 1967, only the ramparts on the S and W sides of the hill were still preserved. Here, ground surveys and aerial photographs have revealed lines of ramparts, numbered 1 - 7 from those on the summit to the outermost.

The excavations revealed three main structural phases, starting with a univallate, timber-laced fort represented by rampart 1. The outer face of this rampart survived to a height of 5ft, but the inner face was marked only by a number of massive slabs, not set contiguously; the thickness was approximately 12 ft; the core of the rampart was composed of a number of stones, some vitrified, and occupation debris including slag and animal bones. Traces of carbonised timbers were also noted at its base.

In phase 2, rampart 1 was replaced by a rubble-cored, stone-faced rampart (no. 2) which in some areas overlay rampart 1 and in other areas lay immediately in front of it; the entrance through rampart 1 was remodelled. Ramparts 3 and 4, which survive in a fragmentary state, are similar in plan and are probably contemporary. A radio-carbon date of 365 +/- 90 BC was obtained from some twigs from the core of rampart 2. The final phase consists of the rubble and turf rampart 7 as its major structure and ramparts 5 and 6 at the E end of the hill. The entrances at the E and SE corner are simple structures and the gaps in the E end of ramparts 1 - 4 which continue the line of the entrances through 5 - 7 may also have been constructed at this time. The main object of these additional ramparts appears to have been to enclose the platform on the NE side of the hill on which at least 15 hut circles are visible, marked by stone footings and turf-covered banks.

South of rampart 7 and east of the entrance a series of stone slabs - chevaux de frise - projects from the turf and can be traced down the slope for some 100ft.

Among the huts, excavated, one overlay rampart 1; an anomalous radio-carbon date of 1191 +/- 90 BC was obtained from a piece of carbonised wood found in its wall filling.

Many artifacts, now in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS), have come from this site, either as stray finds or from the excavations. Among them are: microliths, cup-and-ring marked stones (casts in the NMAS), various jet, flint, and stone artifacts, Iron Age pottery, Roman pottery (of 3rd century AD date) and a denarius of Severus.

D D A Simpson 1969; RCAHMS 1929, visited 1927; P R Ritchie 1970; DoE 1969; 1971; 1972; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1974; 1975; G Macdoald 1918; A S Robertson 1970

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (JTT) 24 August 1965

(See also NT16NW 18).

Site quarried away by May 1986.


Excavation (June 1940 - July 1940)

Supervised excavations by the Ancient Monuments Board in 1940.

V G Childe 1941

Aerial Photography (April 1967)

Oblique aerial photographs of Kaimes Hill Fort, Midlothian, photographed by John Dewar in April 1967.


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