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Lyth, Ring Of Castle Hill

Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Lyth, Ring Of Castle Hill

Classification Fort (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Ring Of Castlehill; Summer Byres

Canmore ID 8843

Site Number ND26SE 3

NGR ND 2828 6182

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

ND26SE 3 2828 6182

(ND 2828 6182) Ring of Castlehill (NR)

OS 6" map (1970).

A circular green mound rising from a now-drained moss. 'A ditch some 35 ft in width encircles it at its base, having on the outside a bank, formed of the upcast, some 2 ft 6 ins in elevation above the natural level, and 11 ft across the top which is flat. The ditch has a depth of some 5 ft below the level of the top of this outer bank, and of 8 ft 2 ins from the top of the breastwork which crowns the scarp. The breastwork, which seems to be an earthen mound, is some 8 ft thick at base and some 2 to 3 ft high on the inner side; the diameter of the interior is some 94 ft. The entrance has been from the N, from which direction the continuity of the ditch is interrupted by an approach over unexcavated ground some 15 ft wide. There is no stonework visible through the turf with which the construction is covered, but at one or two places near the base of the scarp on the W, rock protrudes, indicating that a natural elevation has been utilised. The ditch was probably wet, the bottom being considerably below the natural level.'

RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910.

The Ring of Castlehill, a roughly circular definsive earthwork, is generally as described by the RCAHMS. The breastwork around the flat top of the central mound is no longer visible in the NE and SW arcs. The ditch still contains water and the outer bank is cut in the S by a modern ditch. Another concentric modern ditch skirts the outer bank along the N, E and S sides. Across the entrance, at the outer bank, there is a slight bank of earth 0.2 m high, the purpose of which is unknown. The earthwork may be the site of a castle.

Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (NKB), 15 September 1965.

A medieval ring-work of either Norse or Norman origin. The counterscarp bank shows traces of stone walling on its outer face in the vicinity of the entrance on the N. This may be merely an entrance feature, but the fact that the outer side of the bank is slightly higher than the inner suggests that it may be the remnant of a revetment to the whole outer face.

If the earthwork is of Norman origin, it may be seen as a campaign castle related to William the Lion's activities in the area (1165-1214). If it is Norse a parallel may be found in the possibly primary earthwork of Cubbie Roo's Castle on Wyre (HY42NW 5).

E Talbot 1979.

Ring of Castlehill is as described by the previous authorities. The site may also be compared with the ring works of Strathnaver (NC64SE 30), Borgie (NC65NE 1), Lairg (NC50NE 38) and Suisgill (NC92SW 13).

Visited by OS (JB), 6 May 1982.

Monument, 'Ring of Castlehill'. Diameter: 70m. A circular monument in marshy surroundings, consisting of two banks and a ditch running between them. A third bank and accompanying ditch runs around the W side. A causewayed entrance is visible at the N end. It is cut by a modern drainage ditch.

R J Mercer, NMRS MS/828/19, 1995.

Scheduled as 'Ring of Castlehill, fort 380m SW of Summer Byres... a circular Norse or Norman fort'.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 3 May 2005.


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