Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Cairnhead Mote

Promontory Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Cairnhead Mote

Classification Promontory Fort (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 63094

Site Number NX43NE 4

NGR NX 4861 3825

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2022.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NX43NE 4 4861 3825.

(NX 4861 3825) Cairnhead Mote (NR)

OS 6" map (1957)

Cairnhead Mote is a promontory fort, heavily overgrown. A narrow rocky point, rising 20-30' above sea level, is defended on the landward side by two ditches with a medial and an outer mound. The inner ditch is 14' wide 3' 6" deep and 80' long, while the outer is 18' wide. The medial rampart rises 10' above the outer ditch, while the outer mound is slight. An additional defence is provided by a wall bounding the rock at the side of a shallow creek on the N side of the interior.

RCAHMS 1912, visited 1911; TS., visited 1955; R W Feachem 1956

Cairnhead Mote consists of a double rampart with outer ditches and slight traces of a counter scarp. No trace of walling could be found in the N.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (IA) 24 January 1973


Field Visit (26 September 1953)

This site was included within the RCAHMS Marginal Land Survey (1950-1962), an unpublished rescue project.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 - 2 September 2016)

This fort occupies a rocky coastal promontory that forms part of Cairnhead, but it is obscured by dense scrub. In 1973 the OS surveyors noted that Its defences comprise two ramparts with external ditches cutting off the approach from the W, the outer of which also has traces of a counterscarp bank. An earlier account prepared in 1911 by RCAHMS, however, makes no mention of an inner rampart, noting only that the inner ditch was about 4m in breadth by 1m in depth, that the outer was some 5.5m in breadth, and that the intervening rampart stood some 3m above the bottom of the outer ditch (RCAHMS 1912, 176, no.502). No dimensions are given for the interior.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 02 September 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC0224

Field Visit (2014)

As described. Scrub and gorse covered. Impossible to see ramparts clearly and seem eroded in all places. High potential for coastal erosion, especially when rough conditions.

Visited by Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk (SCHARP) 2014

Field Visit (21 October 2015)

ShoreUPDATE 21/10/2015 The coast edge in this area is hard rocky cliffs, the hinterland is extremely densely vegetated. No visible earthworks at the coast edge. No erosion of the coast edge.

Visited by Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk (SCHARP) 2015


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions