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Fell Of Barhullion

Chevaux De Frise (Prehistoric), Fort (Prehistoric)

Site Name Fell Of Barhullion

Classification Chevaux De Frise (Prehistoric), Fort (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 62757

Site Number NX34SE 15

NGR NX 3745 4188

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

Administrative Areas

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Glasserton
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Wigtown
  • Former County Wigtownshire

Archaeology Notes

NX34SE 15 3745 4188.

(NX 3745 4188) Earthwork (NR)

OS 6" map (1957)

A fort, stone-walled settlement (R W Feachem 1965) occupies a commanding situation towards the S end of the ridge on the summit of the Fell of Barhullion. It is an oval structure, c.140' x 60' within two walls. The debris of the inner wall is particularly massive, while that of the outer is such as may be expected from the decay of an 8' thick wall. It has been suggested that the inner wall may contain chambers or galleries, though excavation is needed to prove this. Though this would be most unusual in a fort in this district, it it not impossible, considering the proximity of the sub-rectangular or D-shaped galleried duns of Argyll, and particularly that at Castle Haven (NX54NE 3). An outer defence, formed by a scanty band of earthfast blocks, c.1' high, may originally have been another wall from which most of the material has been robbed, or possibly, a chevaux de frise. There are slight indications of what may be a filled-in ditch running across the rocky tip of the site at the S end. Of the two gaps in the defences, that at the S is almost certainly an original entrance while that in the E may be original secondary.

R W Feachem 1963; RCAHMS 1912, visited 1911; TS., visited 1955

This fort appears to comprise two constructional phases.

The first consists of a slight outer rampart in which a few facing stones are visible. There is no trace of this rampart on the W side where it is probably overlaid by debris from the stone wall of the second phase. On the N side of the fort, on a level approach, are eighteen earthfast stones, randomly placed, which are undoubtedly the remains of a 'chevaux de frise', though there is no evident entrance in the outer wall at this point.

The second phase consists of a well-built faced stone wall up to 3.0m wide enclosing an area 32.0m N-S by 20m with an entrance in the S. On the W side, the wall widens and appears to contain a collapsed gallery now indicated by a depression within the wall material which extends for about 10m and terminates just before a 1.4m square constructed cell. Interally the fort is featureless. The alleged ditch at the S end is a natural gulley.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (IA) 1 February 1973


Field Visit (27 June 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 (20 December 2013 - 23 May 2016)

This small fort is situated on the summit of Barhullion Fell and measures about 39m from NNE to SSW by 24m transversely within two roughly concentric walls set up to 7m apart. Both walls have been heavily robbed, the inner comprising a low grass-grown mound of rubble some 5m thick pitted with small quarry pits, though on the W, where the natural topography of the summit is much steeper, a broad scree of bare stones spreads down the slope and probably hides the line of the outer wall. This latter is about 2.4m in thickness and has runs of outer facing-stones exposed on the NE and SW. The inner wall seems to have been constructed on a more massive scale and sunk into its core on the SW there is a stone structure with reveted walls measuring 1.4m square internally and up to 1.1m in depth. Later structures are often found utilising the ready supply of stone provided by a fort wall and there is no particular reason to this structure is contemporary with the wall, or indeed of antiquity, although RCAHMS investigators in 1955 thought there might have been a gallery within the thickness of the wall extending back round towards the entrance. In view of the evident disturbance by stone robbers any interpretation of irregularities in the surface of the rubble here is probably misleading. Nevertheless, the invesigators also recorded upwards of 40 stones belonging to a chevaux de frise, mainly on the NE, but with several on the S also, suggesting that these may have formed a belt around the eastern half of the defences. Some of the latter stones are almost certainly bedrock, and opinions vary as to the overall number of stones that survive, but there can be no doubt of the existence of the chevaux de frise extending up to 15m outside the outer rampart on the N; several stones are still upright, the tallest of which is about 0.75m high.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 23 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC0218


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