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Carghidown Castle

Promontory Fort (Period Unassigned), Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Carghidown Castle

Classification Promontory Fort (Period Unassigned), Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 63132

Site Number NX43NW 8

NGR NX 4356 3507

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NX43NW 8 4356 3507.

(NX 4356 3507) Carghidown Castle (NR) (Site of)

OS 6" map (1957)

Carghidown Castle, covering 1/2 acre, stood on a precipice overhanging the sea. All its masonry has disappeared, and there is no knowledge of its history.

P H M'Kerlie 1870

The site of a castle, of which nothing now remains. It appears to have been defended on the landward side by an earthen rampart.

Name Book 1849

A small promontory enclosed by a low earth-and-stone bank, giving an internal area of 28.5m NE-SW by 24.0m NW-SE. A gap of 8.5m on the E represents the area of the entrance.

In the interior are two timber house platforms, both levelled into the slope, and measuring internally 10.0m and 8.2m in diameter. The site is not situated in a strong defensive position, a seaward sloping promontory, and this combined with the small enclosing bank, is more indicative of a homestead.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (DWR) 18 January 1973


Archaeological Evaluation (28 June 2003 - 4 July 2003)

NX 435 351 An evaluation was undertaken in June and July 2003, aided by a number of volunteers, at Carghidown promontory fort in response to coastal erosion. Following a contour survey and a geophysical survey, two trenches were hand-excavated, revealing 20% (80m²) of the site. A series of floor deposits, together with a modest amount of charcoal, were revealed within one of the two stone-walled roundhouses. A clay surface had been laid over the remainder of the site. Three lead beads were recovered from a secure archaeological context immediately outwith one of the roundhouses.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsors: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, Mouswald Trust, Russell Trust.

R Toolis 2003

Measured Survey (2003)

Surveyed and drawn by AOC Archaeology in 2003.

Excavation (27 June 2004 - 9 July 2004)

NX 435 351 An excavation at Carghidown promontory fort (DES 2003, 51) was undertaken in June and July 2004, in response to coastal erosion, by a team of volunteers under professional direction. Two areas totalling 120m² (30%) were excavated.

One area revealed up to four successive phases of occupation within a ring-groove roundhouse. The earliest sandy silt floor surface was succeeded by a pebble surface associated with several post-holes. This floor level was overlain by a third floor surface of flat stone slabs, again associated with post-holes. The stone slabs had subsequently been broken up and, along with a saddle quern, were used as packing stones for post-holes associated with the last rebuilding phase within the site. However, no floor surface was found in association with this last phase of post-holes. A significant amount of charcoal was recovered from the various stratified contexts within the roundhouse.

The excavation of the other areas of the site revealed the foundation base of another roundhouse, the construction of which had been started but not completed. An external ditch and rampart were also examined. The rubble cap of the rampart had entirely collapsed into the ditch. Chipped stone tools were also recovered from the excavation.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsors: Dumfriesshire & Galloway Natural History & Antiquarian Society, Mouswald Trust, Royal Archaeological Institute, Russell Trust, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

R Toolis 2004

Note (20 December 2013 - 23 May 2016)

This small promontory work is situated on the exposed SW coast of the Machars and its extent has evidently been severely reduced by erosion, now measuring no more than 0.04ha in extent internally. The ground drops into the promontory from the NE and consequently the bank drawn across its neck, which in excavation was 3m thick and up to 0.6m high and was fronted by a steep-sided external ditch 3m broad and over 1.5m deep, does not form an impressive barrier when approached from the landward side. The entrance lay between the eastern terminal of the rampart and the cliff-edge on the E. Prior to excavation, the interior, which measured about 28.5m from NE to SW by 24m transversely when described by the OS in 1973, contained two scooped platforms, both of which seem to have been the stances for round-houses. In 2004 excavation of the platform at the seaward tip of the promontory revealed a complex fourfold sequence in which an earth and stone wall had been replaced in timber and the floor had been relaid on several occasions. The five c-14 dates, which broadly span the period 360 BC - AD 60 come from this sequence, but in some instances probably from contexts with mixed charcoal assemblages. Apart from a number of coarse stone tools, the finds include three lead beads, which are very unusual items from any Iron Age sites in Scotland.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 23 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC0229


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