Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC1329: Wardlaw Hill  

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HER:  The West of Scotland Archaeology Service 6556

NMR:  NS 33 SE 5 (41985)

SM:  306

NGR:  NS 3592 3276

X:  235920  Y:  632760  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

The remains of this fort are situated on the summit of Wardlaw Hill, but its defences are heavily reduced by cultivation, so much so that the precise course of the eastern half is unknown. Nevertheless, the interior is probably oval on plan, measuring up to 95m from NE to SW by 60m transversely within a rampart up to 4.5m in thickness by 0.6m in height. This is best preserved on the NW, but can be traced as a scarp some 2.5m in height around the SW quarter, where there is also evidence of a ditch 4.5m in breadth and a counterscarp rampart 5m in thickness by 0.5m in height. The interior is featureless and the position of the entrance is unknown. A trial excavation on the NW in 1985 demonstrated that the rampart is constructed of earth and stone and overlies an earlier bank, which was already heavily denuded and spread at the time of the rampart's construction (Halpin 1992, 121-6). The earlier bank seems to have been constructed of material stripped from the surfaces both inside and outside its line, whereas the later rampart had a core of large stones and boulders. The excavator suggested that two narrow, stone-lined trenches set about 2m apart immediately within the interior may have held upright timbers revetting the rampart, but while these were apparently cut through deposits washed off the earlier bank there is no compelling evidence to relate them to the structure of the rampart, nor indeed that they held timberwork.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✓  John Lumley

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -512434  Y:  7471489  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -4.603274  Latitude:  55.560866  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  South Ayrshire

Historic County:   Ayrshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Dundonald

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:  145.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

No dating evidence was recovered 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:  ✓  Pit cut into the land surface beneath the earlier bank

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✓  Ploughed down

None:  No details.

Investigations

First depicted in 1857 on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Ayrshire 1860, sheet 22.11), it was described in the early 1890s by both David Christison (Christison 1893, 393, pl vi fig 2) and John Smith (Smith 1895, 120-1). RCAHMS visited the fort in 1952 during its survey of Marginal Lands and it was Scheduled in 1953. The OS visited in 1954 and revised the 1:2500 depiction in 1982. RCAHMS revisited it in 1985 and in the same year an evaluation trench was excavated across the defences on the NW (Halpin 1992).

1st Identified Map Depiction (1857):  Annotated Intrenchment on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Ayrshire 1860, sheet 22.11)
Earthwork Survey (1891):  Sketch-plan and description (Christison 1893, 390 fig 2, 393)
Other (1895):  Description by John Smith (1895, 120-1)
Other (1952):  Description during RCAHMS Survey of Marginal Lands
Other (1953):  Scheduled
Other (1954):  Visited by the OS
Other (1982):  Revised at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1985):  Description by RCAHMS
Excavation (1985):  Evaluation (Halpin 1992)

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

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

NO APPARENT FEATURES

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

Entrances

None known

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  0:  Large sectors ploughed down

Number of Possible Original Entrances:  0:  No entrance known

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Enclosing Works

Twin ramparts with a medial ditch on the SW, but only one rampart elsewhere. Rampart shown to have been constructed in at least two phases

Enclosed Area 1:  0.4ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.4ha.

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✓  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  2

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  1
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  1
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  1

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

Stone-lined trenches immediately within the line of the rampart were interpreted as palisade trenches or revetments, but in the case of the outer the timbers would have been of the order of 0.6m in thickness, a scale otherwise unknown in the timberwork of Scottish hillforts. Stratigraphically they possibly represent much later activity, perhaps even the result of post-medieval agriculture. Rampart has two phases - earther bank, then rubble core.

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

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

Christison, D (1893) 'The Prehistoric Forts of Ayrshire'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 27 (1892-93), 381-405.

Feachem, R (1963) A guide to prehistoric Scotland. Batsford: London (p 110)

Halpin E 1992 'Harpercroft and Wardlaw hill', in Rideout, J S, Owen, O A, & Halpin, E (eds) 'Hillforts of southern Scotland'. Edinburgh, pp.121-6

Smith, J (1895) Prehistoric Man in Ayrshire. London.

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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