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Kae Heughs, Barney Mains

Fort (Prehistoric)

Site Name Kae Heughs, Barney Mains

Classification Fort (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Garleton Hills

Canmore ID 56295

Site Number NT57NW 23

NGR NT 5183 7627

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council East Lothian
  • Parish Haddington
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District East Lothian
  • Former County East Lothian

Archaeology Notes

NT57NW 23 5183 7627

See also NT57NW 54.

(NT 5183 7627) Fort (NR)

OS 6" map (1963)

This fort, situated at the E end of the Garleton Hills, is bordered to the N by a cliff which has been quarried so that the E part of the fort is no longer in existence. The remainder consists of an enclosure, now 460' in length by 230', formed by a substantial stony rampart which is covered by two others at wide intervals. The interior contains slight hollows which might represent stances for timber houses. There are indications of a fourth rampart on either side of the entrance and a definite hut 25' in diameter to the NW of the centre.

R W Feachem 1963; RCAHMS 1924, visited 1913; RCAHMS MSS 1956

This fort is generally as described.

Visited by OS (BS) 18 August 1975

Photographed by the RCAHMS in 1977, 1979 and 1980 and 1996.

(Undated) information in NMRS.


Field Visit (28 May 1913)

74. Fort, Kaeheughs, Barney Mains.

On the summit of a long ridge, interspersed with straggling trees at the western end and contained within more closely grown trees round the eastern segment, 400 yards west of Barney Mains, at an elevation of 500 feet above sea level, is a fort, somewhat almond-shaped on plan, with the narrow end to the east (fig. 88 [ELD 14/1]).The main axis is east and west and measures internally some 460 feet in length and 235 feet in breadth. No defence is required along the northern flank, as there is a sheer precipice of rock 50 to 60 feet in height on this side, below which the ground falls away in a steep declivity for more than 150 feet from the foot of the rock. On the south the land falls sharply for 30 feet between the inner and outer walls, then slopes away gradually. To the east the ground has been steep and rocky, but an old quarry has encroached on the fort at this place, destroying any defences which may have existed here, while to the west the ridge stretches away fairly level. The main entrance (fig. 11 [EL 7]) 10 to 12 feet wide is along the summit of the ridge from the west penetrating all the defences, and there is also an entrance 9 to 15 feet wide from the south near the western end of the interior.

The inner defence on the southern flank is a rampart, 9 feet broad and rising about 1 foot above the inner level, which is carried round the western end until it reaches the edge of the precipice on the north. Across this end it attains considerable dimensions, being in places 23 feet broad at the base and 6 feet high on the inside. Besides the inner one on the southern flank there are two other ramparts near the foot of the steep natural escarpment. The first of these outer defences is 6 feet broad, 1 foot high on the inside and 11 feet high on the outside, while its crest lies 54 feet from, and 17 ½ feet lower than the inner rampart; the second rampart is 10 feet broad, 1 foot high on the inside, 3 ½ feet high on the outside and 40 feet distant from the crest of the last mentioned rampart. Some 16 feet beyond, what looks like the fragment of an outer rampart of uncertain dimensions can be traced for some distance east of the southern entrance. These defences run west along the southern flank as far as the southern entrance, beyond which only the second of them is continued westwards, and this can be traced for about 65 yards, after which it seems to carryon some distance as a scarp. The distance between this line and the inner rampart, adjacent to the southern entrance, is 85 feet, the intervening space being occupied by outcropping rocks. The defences at the western, and most accessible, end of the fort, consist of three ramparts outside the inner rampart, intervals of 49 feet, 53 feet and 153feet separating them from each other. The first of these is built right across the ridge from the outer rampart on the south to the edge of the precipice on the north and measures 12feet in breadth at the base and 3 to 4 feet in height; the second, commencing at the rocky outcrop on the south, is also carried across the ridge and measures 18 feet in breadth and 3 to4 feet in height; while the third and outer rampart,10 feet in breadth and I foot in height, with a ditch 8 feet broad and 1 foot deep outside it runs from the ridge northwards for some 50 yards, when it terminates some 40 yards from the edge of the precipice on the north. There are no remains of hut circles to be seen in the interior, but some hollows in the rocky surface could easily have been, and probably were, used as shelters.

RCAHMS 1924, visited 28 May 1913.

OS Map: v. S.W.

Field Visit (30 October 1956)

Fort, Kaeheughs, (Inventory No. 74).

The Inventory plan is substantially correct, but there are slight indications of a fourth (outermost) rampart on the S side, on both sides of the entrance, and the fragment of the outer rampart on the W is longer and much less regular than it appears on the finished drawing. It looks, in fact, unfinished. There is one certain hut site in the interior, slightly to the NW of the centre, appearing as a shallow scoop 25 ft in diameter. The ramparts seem to have been constructed of rock rubble derived from discontinuous and irregularly-shaped external quarry-pits (not shown on the plan), but the prescence of occasional boulders embedded in the flanks of the ramparts suggests that they may have been curbed or revetted with dry-walling.

A notable feature, paralleled at The Chesters Fort, Drem, is the multiplication of ramparts, only the innermost of which seems to have been very substantial. The wide gaps between the ramparts, particularly on the flat ground on the W side, are also noteworthy.

Visited by RCAHMS (KAS) 30 October 1956.

Note (15 December 2015 - 24 May 2016)

This fort is situated on the tip of the E spur of Barney Hill, exploiting the crag known as the Kae Heughs dropping away along the N flank. Between the crag on the N and quarries that have eaten into the E end, and at least two ramparts and possibly three or four on the W and S respectively, the interior is roughly pear-shaped on plan, measuring about 140m from E to W and contracting from 72m on the W to no more than 30m on the lip of the quarry on the E (0.84ha). The inner and middle ramparts traverse the spine of the spur from the crags on the N some 18m apart, but on the SW they close up to swing round the S flank, where, with the addition of a third rampart and possibly a fourth, they form a more impressive belt of defences in excess of 35m deep. The third rampart, however, takes a rather different line on the W, cutting straight across the spur and on the S resting on what is probably a largely natural scarp which has been incorporated into the rampart along the foot of the slope on the S. Now grass-grown, all the ramparts are reduced to grass-grown rubble banks and in some places the irregular quarry ditches between them appear as little more than ragged pits. Two entrances are visible, one piercing the three wide-spaced ramparts on the W, at which the gaps are slightly staggered to expose the visitor's right side, and the other mounting the slope obliquely on the SW to expose the visitor's left side; the third rampart at the latter returns around the terminal of the ditch on the E side of the gap. The interior is rough and uneven, the only features visible being traces of an internal quarry behind the inner rampart on the ESE and a shallow scoop, possibly the stance of a round-house, adjacent to a later quarry a little NW of the centre.

In addition to these defensive works, there are also traces of another bank and ditch on the crest of the spur a further 50m to the W, but while this appears to turn back eastwards, and thus might be considered some form of annexe, it might equally belong to the outlying system of presumably agricultural boundaries focused on the site of the fort which has been revealed by cropmarks on the southern slopes of the hill.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 24 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3874


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