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Green Castle

Fort (Medieval)(Possible), Fort (Prehistoric)(Possible)

Site Name Green Castle

Classification Fort (Medieval)(Possible), Fort (Prehistoric)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Newlands Burn

Canmore ID 56084

Site Number NT56NE 3

NGR NT 5818 6569

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council East Lothian
  • Parish Garvald And Bara
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District East Lothian
  • Former County East Lothian

Archaeology Notes

NT56NE 3 5818 6569.

(NT 5818 6569) Green Castle (NAT) Fort (NR)

OS 25" map (1967)

Green Castle.This triangular fort rests on the steep right bank of the Newlands Burn (at an elevation of 950ft OD) and is protected a short distance away to the N by a minor watercourse. It consists of an enclosure measuring axially 225ft by 190ft within a rampart which borders a natural plateau and so has a steep outer scarp. Another rampart of a less substantial nature provides further cover outside this. The entrance is in the W apex, and apart from a hollow inside this, the interior is featureless.

R W Feachem 1963; RCAHMS 1924, visited 1913

This fort is generally as described and planned.

Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (JTT) 13 September 1965

No change from above information.

Visited by OS (JRL) 15 June 1979


Field Visit (17 May 1913)

At an elevation of 950 feet above sea level, some 500 yards south-south-east of ‘Black Castle’ fort (No. 50) and about a mile east south-east of Newlands steading, is a natural plateau (fig. 12 [SC1127008]) on the steep right bank of the Newlands burn, rising about 6 feet above the terrain to the south-east and 45 feet above a narrow haugh on the north. The plateau is triangular in shape with the apex lying to the north-east and the base towards the Newlands burn on the south-west. Around the perimeter there has been a stone wall, which is almost obliterated except on the south-western side and at the western angles; at these latter sections the wall, now sod-covered, is 12. Feet broad at base and rises 10 feet above the interior of the fort. The area enclosed measures 225 feet from south-west to north-east by 190 feet along the south-western side. The entrance, which is 20 feet wide, is in the north-eastern angle.

The plateau is steeply scarped on all sides and is further protected by an outer defence (fig. 67 [plan]), a great ditch and counterscarp carried round the work; on the south-western side, where the deeply worn course of the Newlands burn is sufficient protection, the artificial ditch is discontinued, while the steep farther bank of the burn forms a natural counterscarp, which is strengthened by a ditch beyond, 12 feet broad and 5 feet deep, that follows the line of the stream for a distance of about 60 yards in front of the fort. This line of outer defences is not continuous. On the north-west it commences 20 feet back from the bank of the stream and returns eastward and round the north-eastern angle, where it dies out in a slight cleugh; it is carried from the farther side of this cleugh in a south-westerly direction until it approaches the Newlands burn.

On the northern section of the outworks the ditch lies 26 feet below the summit and IS 12 feet wide; on the counters carp is a rampart12 feet broad at base, rising 5 feet above the bottom of the trench and 24 feet above the haugh. On the north-east a ditch 9 feet wide, 6 ½ feet deep on the scarp and 2 feet deep on the counterscarp has been formed beyond the rampart to cut off a spur that rises gradually from the haugh.

On the eastern side the main ditch is 20 feet wide, 18 feet deep on the scarp and 11 feet deep on the counterscarp. The counterscarp bears a rampart IO feet wide and about a foot high, built for half its length some 8 feet out from the edge of the ditch and so forming a rough banquette or platform; beyond the rampart is an outer ditch 12 feet wide, 6 1/2 feet deep on the scarp and 3 feet deep on the counterscarp, which follows the line of the rampart from the cleugh until it approaches the burn, where it swings sharply southward and encloses what may be a mound 8 feet by 12 feet before dying out on the right bank of the burn.

On the farther side of the cleugh and opposite the north-eastern angle of the plateau a trench, 30 yards in length, 6 feet in breadth and 1 foot in depth with a rampart 7 feet in breadth rising foot above the bottom of the trench, has been constructed across the face of a promontory on the higher ground facing this part of the fort. This trench is interrupted at one place by the lie of the ground.

Within the fort and towards the southern corner are foundations of small structures, which are possibly secondary; one has been rectangular, the others are roughly circular.

RCAHMS 1924, visited 17 May 1913.

Field Visit (2 June 1954)

Earthwork, 'Green Castle', Newlands, (Inv. No. 46).

The Inventory plan is accurate, but there is some doubt whether it should be accepted as a hill-fort. At first glance it might be thought to be medieval, on the analogy of Iron Castle, Roxburghshire, but the resemblance is not very close and may be illusory. It is in fact dificult to believe that medieval builders would have continued the outer rampart on the opposite bank of the Newlands Burn where it provides excellent cover for raiders. I am inclined to accept the work as of early Iron Age date although the small circular 'structures' referred to in the Inventory are not convincing and are in any case too small for huts.

Visited by RCAHMS (KAS) 2 June 1954.

Note (7 December 2015 - 1 June 2016)

This fortification occupies a promontory that has been isolated by natural gullies to form a steep-sided hillock. Roughly triangular on plan, it measures 68m from NE to SW by 58m transversely (0.3ha) within the inner rampart, though for much of the circuit this has been reduced to little more than a raised lip. Partly exploiting a natural gully on the SE, the rampart is also accompanied by a massive external ditch, which has been sunk some 6m below the level of the interior on the SE, and carried around the NE end and along the N flank. An outer rampart has also been piled up along its counterscarp, and a second ditch has been dug along the SE flank from the NE end. On the SW, the deeply incised stream gully seems to replace the inner ditch, and the outer bank and ditch have been continued along the lip of the escarpment forming its far side of the gully. The entrance is on the W, approached from the N by a trackway which mounts the slope between the end of the outer rampart and the burn and turns in between the terminals of the inner rampart at the NW end of the SW side. Traces of a rectangular structure are visible within the interior. The character of the defences is unusual and shares more in common with medieval earthwork castles than Iron Age forts.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 01 June 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3847


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