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Chatto Craig

Fort (Prehistoric)

Site Name Chatto Craig

Classification Fort (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Upper Chatto

Canmore ID 57959

Site Number NT71NE 43

NGR NT 7670 1662

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Hownam
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Roxburgh
  • Former County Roxburghshire

Archaeology Notes

NT71NE 43 767 166.

(NT 7668 1662) Fort (NR)

OS 6" map, (1958).

This fort occupies the summit of Chatto Craig (1024ft OD), a rocky hillock. The fortifications comprise a small citadel on the summit of the knoll, and an outer enclosure, defended by double ramparts on the S and by a single rampart elsewhere. (See RCAHMS 1956 plan, fig.191). The citadel is oval on plan and measures internally 155ft (47.3m) from N to S by 105ft (32m) transversely within a single rampart of boulder-faced rubble 11ft (3.35m) thick, with an entrance on the NW. No trace of this wall remains on the NE, and elsewhere it is only represented by occasional facing-stones. No internal structures are visible. The approach to the entrance is flanked on either side by the remains of a thin wall which extends for 21ft (6.4m) from the outer face of the rampart and at right angles to it. The purpose of these walls is obscure, but their slight construction suggests that they may be secondary.

Except on the S side, the main wall of the outer enclosure is set on the margin of a terrace. Like the citadel wall it was made of stone-faced rubble and was probably between 10ft (3m) and 12ft (3.66m) thick, but only fragments of the core and intermittent outer facing stones are now visible. On the S side, where it crosses rock outcrops, it is reinforced by a loop-rampart of similar construction and in a similar condition.

The entrance to the enclosure is on the NW, opposite the citadel entrance and linked to it by a hollow track. There are no traces of buidings within the enclosure, but between the two entrances, on either side of the track, there is a large garth bounded by the remains of the stone-faced rubble walls about 6ft (1.83m) thick. The one on the N side of the track is certainly later than the fort as its NW wall over-rides the ruins of the enclosure wall and the latter has been breached at the NNW apex to give access to the garth. The only internal feature is a shallow and roughly circular scoop about 20ft (6.1m) in diameter. The garth on the S side of the track is less well defined and there is no evidence to show its relationship to the fort. An ancient field-fyke (shown on plan), consisting of a core of boulders capped with earth, lies on the hill-slope below the S and SW sides of the fort. It may be contemporary with the occupation of the fort.

No relics have been found by which the fort could be dated, but certain features, notably the small oval citadel and the technique of utilising rock outcrops as integral parts of the defensive system, suggest a Dark Age rather than an Iron Age date.

RCAHMS 1956, visited 1948.

This fort is generally as described and planned by the RCAHMS.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (JRL) 25 October 1979.

The fort and surrounding area is visible on vertical air photographs, (OS 68/024/66-7, 83-4, flown 8 April 1968).

Information from RCAHMS, 1997


Field Visit (20 October 1999)

NT71NE 43

NT 767 166

Chatto Craig


This fort is situated in improved pasture 580m S of Upper Chatto farmsteading (NT71NE 132), overlooking the cultivation terraces on the slopes to the N (NT71NE 25). It occupies a prominent summit at an altitude of 312m OD and commands a broad vista to the N, E and S.

The fort remains as described by previous authorities. The inner enclosure (the ‘citadel’) measures 43.3m from N to S by 32m transversely within the inner rampart, which is best preserved on the NW where it is broken by the entrance-gap and measures 2.7m in thickness and 0.4m in height. It measures 0.7m in height on the WNW, to the S of the entrance, where the outline of what has probably been an excavation trench is also apparent.

The outer enclosure is largely defined by natural terraces and displays the complex arrangement of walls that was previously noted by RCAHMS.

Visited by RCAHMS (RJCM, PJD, MR), 20 October 1999.

RCAHMS 1956.

Note (8 September 2015 - 18 October 2016)

This fort is situated on the summit of Chatto Craig, a commanding summit overlooking the valley of the Kale Water S of Chatto. The defences comprise two elements, namely an inner enclosure taking in the very summit, and a large outer enclosure extending round a lower terrace, but they are also overlain by two subsidiary enclosures on the W. The inner enclosure is oval on plan, and measures 43m from NNW to SSE by 32m transversely (0.13ha) within a rampart some 3.3m in thickness; several runs of outer face are visible on the ESE, SSE, SW and WNW respectively, and the entrance is on the NW. The outer defences follow the topography to form an irregular enclosure measuring internally about 105m from NW to SE by 80m transversely (0.6ha). Its rampart has been largely reduced to a scree of grass-grown rubble, but runs of outer facing-stones can be seen intermittently around its circuit, particularly on the SE, and some of the individual blocks are 1m long and 0.9m high; an outer rampart of similar construction can be seen looping round the S side, springing from the line of the main rampart on the SW and possibly returning on the E, though this latter sector was interpreted by RCAHMS investigators in 1948 as a reinforcing buttress to the main rampart. The entrance is on the NW, pierced by a hollowed trackway leading up to the entrance into the inner enclosure, where it is flanked by the remains of two low walls. This trackway, however, is also leading between what are probably two walled enclosures that overlie the outer rampart, and the walls flanking its inner end are probably butted against the inner rampart. While the RCAHMS investigators regarded the fort to be more probably early Medieval than Iron Age, comprising an inner citadel with an outer court, their reasoning, partly based on the incorporation of the outcrops into the defensive scheme, does not stand close scrutiny. The presence of these overlying enclosures is more likely to be a manifestation of a phase of late Iron Age settlement overlying earlier defences, a typical sequence in the region, and in any case there is no reason to assume either that the two elements are contemporary, or that the outer was not a free-standing fort. Notably, the only structure visible within either is a circular platform within the northern of these enclosures overlying the outer circuit; in this case the enclosure has been provided with an independent entrance driven through the earlier rampart on the WNW.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 18 October 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3405

Sbc Note

Visibility: This is an upstanding earthwork or monument.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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