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West Murkle

Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name West Murkle

Classification Fort (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 8424

Site Number ND16NE 7

NGR ND 1579 6987

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Thurso
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Caithness
  • Former County Caithness

Archaeology Notes

ND16NE 7 1579 6987.

(ND 1579 6987) Fort (NR) (rems of)

OS 6" map, (1970)

Opposite the termination of the farm road which leads past West Murkle is a small promontory across the landward end of which is a wall or rampart measuring some 8 to 10ft in thickness and 8ft maximum height. The end and sides of the promontory are much eroded and there is no trace of any structure which may have formerly existed behind the defence (RCAHMS 1911). 'An old fort'. A 2ft layer of black soil overlies heaps of periwinkle and limpet shells (ONB 1872).

Ordnance Survey Name Book (ONB) 1872; RCAHMS 1911.

The fragmentary remains of a small promontory fort. It consists of a ruined stone wall or rampart, measuring some 7.0m in width, 2.5m high externally and 1.0m internally, which encloses a small, much eroded cliff projection 26.0m NW-SE by 13.0m transversely. Running N from the E end of the rampart along the cliff edge for about 2.0m, there is a line of thin slabs 0.6m high, possibly the remains of defences along the E side. No evidence of an entrance or internal structures is to be seen. Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (N K B) 16 February 1965.

The fort is generally as described above. The rampart only survives to any extent on the landward SW side. A depression in the rampart, 3.5m wide, may indicate the position of the entrance or be the result of recent mutilation. There are indications of a now shallow ditch outside the rampart on the S side.

Visited by OS (J B) 7 December 1981.

A grassy hillock forming a blunt headland some 6m above high water level. Around it runs a considerable bank and ditch which start in a straight line from the cliff on the E side, but about half-way across curve sharply W and seawards. The top of the bank stands some 3m above the bottom of the U-sectioned ditch; the bank has a core of large stones and probably a masonry revetment. A slight depression about midway along the bank is probably not the original entrance, which possibly was at one of the ends lost by erosion. Within the fort nothing is visible on the ground except for a few erect slabs behind the rampart at the E end. In the cliff-sections, however, portions of walls can be seen, suggesting that the defended area, which is thickly overgrown was quite densely built-up.

R G Lamb 1980.


Note (18 February 2015 - 31 May 2016)

A heavily eroded promontory at the head of Clardon Haven is defended on the landward side by a substantial rampart and ditch. The rampart is reduced to a grass grown bank some 7m in thickness and stands up to 3m in height above the bottom of the external ditch, which is up to 4m in breadth. Internally, however, the rampart stands only 1m high, but erosion along the margins of the promontory has revealed a deep deposit containing midden and wall footings. The fragment of the interior remaining measures 27m from NW to SE immediately in the rear of the rampart, by no more than 13m transversely. The position of the entrance is not known.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 31 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2825


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