Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC0186: Cairn Pat  

(Cairn Piot)

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HER:  Dumfries & Galloway MDG13140

NMR:  NX 05 NW 1 (60559)

SM:  1958

NGR:  NX 0442 5632

X:  204420  Y:  556320  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This fort, which with the exception of the promontory enclosure on the Mull of Galloway is the largest of those on the Rhinns of Galloway, is situated on the summit of Cairn Pat, a hill with commanding views in every direction. Slightly oval on plan, it measures 132m from N to S by 118m transversely (1.15ha) within a pair of ramparts set between 5.5m and 9.5m apart. A third rampart springs from the outer on the SW and swings round the S flank of the fort to probably return on the SSE, but this junction has been destroyed; another low bank with an external ditch lies outside the third rampart on the SW and can be traced in intermittent scatters of stones around the W side, finally petering out on the N. All the ramparts have been extensively robbed and in places are difficult to follow on the ground, but the innermost seems to have been the thickest, ranging from a bank of rubble up to 4.8m thick by 0.8m high on the S to a stony scarp some 1.5m high on the N, whereas the outer of this pair is spread up to 3.1m thick by a maximum of 0.6m high externally; around the S quarter, however, it appears to be flanked internally by a shallow quarry ditch. The third rampart forms a bank only 2m thick by 0.3m high. As a result of the robbing it is also difficult to be certain of the position of any entrances, though there are traces of returns linking the concentric inner pair of ramparts on the WSW. Other gaps on the NE appear modern, while on the SSE a plan drawn up in 1955 shows the ramparts crossing the line of the access road up to the telecommunication masts on the summit; this follows a natural hollow that extends up into the interior between a high rock outcrop on the W and a lower natural scarp on the E, but there is no evidence to show that this was originally exploited as an entrance. The interior is featureless and much of the summit area is made up of exposed bedrock.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -562060  Y:  7335390  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -5.049075  Latitude:  54.863347  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Dumfries & Galloway

Historic County:   Wigtownshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Portpatrick

Condition

Extant:  
Cropmark:  
Likely Destroyed:  

Land Use

Mainly rough pasture, but with scattered gorse bushes. Outcrop is generally close beneath the turf and is visible over much of the summit area.

Woodland:  
Commercial Forestry Plantation:  
Parkland:  
Pasture (Grazing):  
Arable:  
Scrub/Bracken:  
Bare Outcrop:  
Heather/Moorland:  
Heath:  
Built-up:  
Coastal Grassland:  
Other:  

Landscape

Hillfort Type

Contour Fort:  
Partial Contour Fort:  
Promontory Fort:  
Hillslope Fort:  
Level Terrain Fort:  
Marsh Fort:  
Multiple Enclosure Fort:  

Topographic Position

Hilltop:  
Coastal Promontory:  
Inland Promontory:  
Valley Bottom:  
Knoll/Hillock/Outcrop:  
Ridge:  
Cliff/Plateau-edge/Scarp:  
Hillslope:  
Lowland:  
Spur:  

Dominant Topographic Feature:  A commanding and prominent hilltop with views dominating the whole of the Rhinns.

Aspect

North:  
Northeast:  
East:  
Southeast:  
South:  
Southwest:  
West:  
Northwest:  
Level:  

Elevation

Altitude:  175.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

There are neither stratified artefacts nor radiocarbon dates to provide a chronology for the defences.

Reliability:  D - None

Pre 1200BC:  
1200BC - 800BC:  
1200BC - 800BC:  
400BC - AD50:  
AD50 - AD400:  
AD400 - AD 800:  
Post AD800:  
Unknown:  

Pre Hillfort Activity:  ✗  

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✗  

None:  No details.

Investigations

First noted by the OS surveyors in 1847, it was not surveyed at 1:2500 until 1893. Subsequently described in the County Inventory for Wigtownshire (RCAHMS 1912, 141, No. 413), in 1955 it was planned in more detail by RCAHMS. Subsequent visits have been carried out in 1968 by the OS and in 1984 by RCAHMS again. A watching brief was maintained for the digging of foundations within the telecommunications compound; no archaeological features were observed and the whole of the fenced area has been extensively disturbed (Fulford 2001, 28).

1st Identified Map Depiction (1847):  Annotated Fort on the 1st edition OS 6-inch map (Wigtownshire 1849, sheet 16)
Earthwork Survey (1893):  OS 1:2500 map (Wigtownshire 1894, sheet 17.11)
Other (1911):  Description (RCAHMS 1912, 141, No. 413)
Earthwork Survey (1955):  1:400 (RCAHMS WGD 6/1-3)
Other (1968):  Resurveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1984):  Description by RCAHMS
Other (1995):  Scheduled; probably a rescheduling from c.1938/9
Excavation (2001):  Watching brief (Fulford 2001, 28)
Other (2014):  Visit by the Hillfort Study Group

Interior Features

Featureless

Water Source

None:  
Spring:  
Stream:  
Pool:  
Flush:  
Well:  
Other:  

Surface

No Known Features:  
Round Stone Structures:  
Rectangular Stone Structures:  
Curvilinear Platforms:  
Other Roundhouse Evidence:  
Pits:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  

Excavation

Nothing found

No Known Excavation:  
Pits:  
Postholes:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  
Nothing Found:  

Geophysics

No Known Geophysics:  
Pits:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  
Nothing Found:  

Finds

Stone lamp was discovered during drainage operations NE of the fort (See Canmore NX05NW 7).

No Known Finds:  
Pottery:  
Metal:  
Metalworking:  
Human Bones:  
Animal Bones:  
Lithics:  
Environmental:  
Other:  

Aerial

APs Not Checked:  
None:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Pits:  
Postholes:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Other:  

Entrances

See main summary

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  4:  at least three gaps are related to stone-robbing or the creation of modern access to the summit.

Number of Possible Original Entrances:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (West):  Passage-way/Corridor:  Traces of returns linking the two ramparts to either side of the gap.

Enclosing Works

A concentric pair of ramparts, with at least one outer rampart on the southern quarter, and traces of another low bank around the W, though the relationship of this to the defences is unknown.

Enclosed Area 1:  1.15ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  1.1ha.

Total Footprint Area:  2.06ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  3

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  2

Current Morphology

Partial Univallate:  
Univallate:  
Partial Bivallate:  
Bivallate:
Partial Multivallate:  
Multivallate:  
Unknown:  

Multi-period Morphology

Partial Univallate:  
Univallate:  
Partial Bivallate:  
Bivallate:  
Partial Multivallate:  
Multivallate:  

Surface Evidence

None:  
Earthen Bank:  
Stone Wall:  
Rubble:  
Wall-walk:  
Evidence of Timber:  
Vitrification:  
Other Burning:  
Palisade:  
Counter Scarp Bank:  
Berm:  
Unfinished:  
Other:  

Excavated Evidence

Of the defences; limited evaluation within interior

None:  
Earthen Bank:  
Stone Wall:  
Murus Duplex:  
Timber-framed:  
Timber-laced:  
Vitrification:  
Other Burning:  
Palisade:  
Counter Scarp Bank:  
Berm:  
Unfinished:  
No Known Excavation:  
Other:  

Gang Working

Gang Working:  ✗ 

Ditches

Ditches:  

Number of Ditches:  1:  On the SW there are traces of an internal quarry to the rear of the outer of the pair of ramparts.

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

Feachem, R (1963) A guide to prehistoric Scotland, London (p 160)

Fulford, H (2001) 'Cairnpat, Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway (Portpatrick parish), watching brief', Discovery Excav Scot 2 (2001), 28.

RCAHMS (1912) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Fourth report and inventory of monuments and constructions in Galloway, 1, county of Wigtown, Edinburgh.

Terms of Use

The online version of the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland should be cited as:

Lock, G. and Ralston, I. 2017.  Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://hillforts.arch.ox.ac.uk.

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