Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC0235: Dinnans  

('Old Fort')

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HER:  Dumfries & Galloway MDG2886

NMR:  NX 44 SE 3 (63253)

SM:  1968

NGR:  NX 4786 4026

X:  247860  Y:  540260  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This fort occupies a heavily eroded promontory on the E coast of the Machars, Its defences comprise two massive ramparts with external ditches, which are drawn in an arc across the neck of the promontory with their ends resting on the cliff-edges well beyond the margins of the promontory itself. The inner rampart is some 9.5m in thickness and the outer 11m, standing 2.5m and 3.5m above the bottoms of their corresponding ditches, which are 9m and 6m in breadth respectively. A gap in the centre of the defences probably marks the position of the original entrance, though it has been disturbed by the use of the interior as a cattle feeding stance reported in 1996. The interior measures a maximum of 46m from NW to SE by 35m transversely (0.15ha), but has evidently been much bigger, with large areas eroded on the NE and SW, and no doubt some reduction of is SE, seaward, face too. The OS reported three possible house platforms to the rear of the rampart, but it is unlikely that any trace of these will have survived the poaching caused by cattle feeding. The only other features visible within the interior are a WW II observation post, and what may have been a contemporary breastwork and weapon pit on the S margin of the promontory.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed:  Although reduced to a maximum of 0.15ha internally, there has evidently been extensive erosion of the interior.

Location

X:  -485852  Y:  7310459  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -4.364487  Latitude:  54.734246  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Dumfries & Galloway

Historic County:   Wigtownshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Whithorn

Condition

Extant:  
Cropmark:  
Likely Destroyed:  

Land Use

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:  

Aspect

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

Elevation

Altitude:  20.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

In the absence of excavation, 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:  ✓  WW 2 observation post

None:  No details.

Investigations

Shown on Roy's Map 1747-55 alongside its neighbour on the promontory to the N and annotated 'Dunans', it is also depicted in 1849 on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Wigtownshire 1850, sheet 34). A description was prepared by RCAHMS in 1911 (RCAHMS 1912, 176, no.501), and they returned in 1955 to draw up a plan. The OS re-surveyed at 1:2500 in 1973, and in 1996 a survey to evaluate coastal erosion was prepared (Toolis 2003, 53-4, fig 10). It was Scheduled in 1940. Photographed by RCAHMS Aerial Survey Programme in 2002

1st Identified Map Depiction (1755):  Roy's Map 1747-55
Other (1849):  Annotated 'The Old Fort' 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Wigtownshire 1850, sheet 34)
Other (1911):  Description (RCAHMS 1912, 176, no.501)
Other (1940):  Scheduled
Earthwork Survey (1955):  1:300 (RCAHMS WGD 9/3-4)
Other (1973):  Resurveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Earthwork Survey (1996):  Toolis 2003, 53-4, fig 10

Interior Features

Three possible house platforms noted by OS, but it is unlikely these survive

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

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

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:  

Number of Possible Original Entrances:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (West):  Simple Gap

Enclosing Works

Two ramparts with external ditches cut off the approach to the promontory from the W

Enclosed Area 1:  0.15ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.2ha.

Total Footprint Area:  0.48ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  Heavy erosion of the cliffs suggests that the interior was once considerably larger

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✗  

Number of Ramparts:  2

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

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:  2

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

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

Toolis, R (2003) 'A study of the promontory forts of the north Solway coast'. Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway natur Hist Antiq Soc 3 Ser, 77, 37-78.

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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