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Turnhouse Hill

Fort (Period Unassigned), Palisaded Enclosure (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Turnhouse Hill

Classification Fort (Period Unassigned), Palisaded Enclosure (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Lawhead

Canmore ID 51913

Site Number NT26SW 7

NGR NT 2163 6218

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Midlothian
  • Parish Glencorse
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District Midlothian
  • Former County Midlothian

Archaeology Notes

NT26SW 7 2163 6218.

(NT 2163 6218) Camp (NR)

OS 6" map (1957)

This fort occupies the summit of a ridge protruding from the SE flank of Turnhouse Hill. Its defences are best preserved in the W and N, where they consist of a 15' broad earthen rampart and 9' broad external ditch, but there are still faint traces of them to the SE of the dyke which bisects the site. The fort has two entrances, one from the W, and the other from the NE. The western entrance is flanked on either side by indications of a small oval hollow in the ditch, and two similar but larger features appear to the N and only surviving side of the other entrance.

The interior contains surface traces of at least two ring-ditch type timber framed houses, 27' and 24' in diameter, lying SW of an 8' diameter enclosure, defined by a slight rampart or mound.

RCAHMS 1929, visited 1913; TS, visited 27 May 1955; R W Feachem 1963

A fort, as described above,although the southermost hut on the RCAHMS plan is incorrectly positioned. The two oval features outside the NE entrance are almost certainly later shieling-type structures.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (RD) 13 February 1970

No change to previous field report.

Visited by OS (BS) 10 December 1975

Part of a palisaded enclosure is visible within the earthwork that crowns the prominent hill to the SE of Turnhouse Hill. The enclosure was probably roughly circular, measuring about 30m in diameter, but the palisade trench is clearly defined only on the N. The earthwork measures 85m by 60m within a rampart and ditch, and there are entrances on the NE and SW. Where best-preserved, the rampart stands up to 1.7m above the bottom of the ditch, but to the S of the field-wall that cuts across the earthwork the defences have been reduced to a scarp by cultivation. Within the interior the positions of at least nine timber houses can be identified, two of them exceptionally well-preserved ring-ditch houses about 13m in overall diameter.

P Hill 1982; RCAHMS 1988.


Field Visit (27 May 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.

Note (6 November 2015 - 16 August 2016)

This fort occupies a conical minor summit forming a spur at the foot of the SE flank of Turnhouse Hill. Oval on plan, it measures 85m from NNE to SSW by 60m transversely (0.4ha) within a single rampart with an external ditch. Around the NW half of the circuit, where the rampart is better preserved, it stands 1.7m above the bottom of the ditch, but elsewhere it has been severely degraded by cultivation, to the point where it can barely be traced around the quarter to the S of the stone dyke that traverses the hill. There are entrances on the NE and SW, and traces of at least nine timber round-houses and a palisade trench within the interior. The houses include two well-defined ring-ditch houses some 13m in diameter, which are probably amongst the latest in a sequence of structures. The southern of two small platforms encircled by shallow shelves cut into the slope on the uphill side is intersected by the palisade trench, though the relationship between them is unclear, and the palisade trench itself, which ha s probably enclosed an area some 30m in diameter, has been obliterated by the construction of other round-houses houses representing at least two phases of construction on the S and E. The only other features of note are two turf-built structures overlying the terminals of the ditch either side of the NE entrance; they are probably herd's bothies of medieval or post-medieval date.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 16 August 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3711


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