Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC1338: Carman  

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HER:  The West of Scotland Archaeology Service 6926

NMR:  NS 37 NE 2 (42357)

SM:  717

NGR:  NS 3720 7944

X:  237200  Y:  679440  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This fort is situated on Carman, the southernmost and lowest of the rounded summits of a ridge of hills due W of Alexandria. Its defences comprise two main elements, with a relatively small inner enclosure standing on the N side of a much larger outer work, and though their perimeters coincide upon the N, the relationship between them is unknown. The inner enclosure is oval on plan, measuring about 55m from E to W by 40m transversely (0.17ha) within a heavily-robbed wall some 3m in thickness; large sectors of the wall have been all but removed, but where best preserved, on the W, it forms a bank up to 0.9m in height, along which occasional inner and outer facing-stones are visible, and on the W and S there are also traces of shallow internal quarries. Of the two gaps in the perimeter, on the SE and SW respectively, the latter is probably the original entrance. The interior is featureless. The outer enclosure measures about 145m from NW to SE by 130m transversely (1.5ha) within a wall reduced to a band of rubble about 2.4m in thickness, along which stones of both faces can be seen, including a substantial run of the outer face on the SW. Apparently butting onto this wall on the NE and SE is an outer wall, which forms an annexe from 10m broad on the SE to 20m on the NE, but in this sector both walls are reduced largely to scarps strewn haphazardly with large slabs and boulders up to 1.5m in length by 1.2m in breadth. Of the four gaps in the rampart shown on the plan drawn up by RCAHMS in 1955, three, on the NE, S and W respectively, roughly occurring at the extreme corners of the enclosure, appear to be original, with evidence of wear by traffic. That on the NE has a corresponding gap in the outer wall, as does the fourth gap on the E. The fort evidently stands on the route of a relatively easy passage across the hills and there are a series of hollowed trackways crossing the saddle to the N and possibly including the hollowed way extending up to the entrance on the W and another feature variously forming a terrace and a hollow that was described by the RCAHMS investigators extending along the N flank of the fort immediately below the perimeter. Within the interior there are at least twelve house platforms, while another three possible examples lie within the annexe on the E.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -513280  Y:  7554494  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -4.610875  Latitude:  55.980294  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  West Dunbartonshire

Historic County:   Dunbartonshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Bonhill

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:  235.0m

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:  ✗  

None:  No details.

Investigations

Discovered and planned in 1954 during the RCAHMS Survey of Marginal Lands (Feachem 1966, 83-4 fig.16), the fort was visited by the OS in 1956 and surveyed at 1:2500 in 1963. It was Scheduled in 1960 and revisited by RCAHMS in 1978.

Earthwork Survey (1954):  Plan and description during RCAHMS Survey of Marginal Lands (RCAHMS DBD 1/8 & DP148463
1st Identified Map Depiction (1956):  Visited by the OS
Other (1960):  Scheduled
Other (1963):  Surveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1978):  Description by RCAHMS

Interior Features

The interior of the small inner enclosure is featureless, though up to 15 round-house platforms are visible within the interior of the outer enclosure

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

See main summary

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  2:  A gap on the SE of the inner wall is probably secondary. Several modern breaches in the outer enclosure are mentioned by RCAHMS, but of four shown on the plan only three are thought to be original, occurring at the three major changes in the alignment of the wall.

Number of Possible Original Entrances:  3:  One in the inner wall on the SW, and three in the outer on the NE, S and W respectively

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (Southwest):  Simple Gap:  In the inner circuit
Entrance 2 (Northeast):  Simple Gap:  In the outer circuit
Entrance 3 (South):  Simple Gap:  In the outer circuit
Entrance 4 (West):  Simple Gap:  In the outer circuit

Enclosing Works

Single heavily robbed inner wall, with the wall of the outer enclosure accompanied on the E by a second wall forming what might otherwise be construed as a narrow annexe

Enclosed Area 1:  0.17ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  1.5ha.
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  1.5ha.

Total Footprint Area:  2.0ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  3

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  3
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:  

Annex

Annex:  ✓  At the time of its discovery, Kenneth Steer considered that the defences probably comprised a citadel with an outer enclosure, as did the Alcocks (Alcock and Alcock 1990, 101-3). For the purposes of the Atlas, the outer enclosure is identified as probably a fort in its own right rather than an annexe, enclosing an area of about 1.5ha. Nevertheless, the outermost rampart on the E flank forms what might be construed as a narrow annexe about 150m in length and from 10m in breadth at the southern end to 20m at the northern end.

References

Alcock and Alcock, L and E A (1990) 'Reconnaissance excavations on Early Historic fortifications and other royal sites in Scotland, 1974-84: 4, excavations at Alt Clut, Clyde Rock, Strathclyde, 1974-75'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 120 (1990), 95-149

Feachem, R W (1966) 'The hill-forts of northern Britain', in Rivet, A L F (ed) The iron age in northern Britain. EUP: 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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