Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC2539: Rubh' Aird Ghamhsgail, Arisaig  

(Rubh' Ard Ghaunsgail)

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HER:  Highland HER MHG44717

NMR:  NM 68 SE 2 (22529)

SM:  

NGR:  NM 6929 8400

X:  169290  Y:  784000  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

The heavily vitrified dun on the summit of this rocky promontory possibly occupies the site of an earlier promontory fort. The dun measures about 12.5m in diameter within a wall reduced to a thick band of rubble with large masses of vitrified core. Some 14m to the N, set on the leading edge of a terrace below the level of the summit, there are also traces of a wall blocking the easiest line of access from the NW. While this may be an outwork to the dun, it betrays no sign of vitrifaction and is possibly the remains of an earlier promontory fort. If so, its interior may have measured at least 35m from N to S by between 9m and 18m transversely (0.04ha), though the greater part at the S end is now occupied by the dun. The position of the entrance is not known and the only feature visible within the interior is a stony scarp cutting across from E to W. Other fragments of crude walling were identified by the OS blocking gaps in a ridge of outcrop to the W and crossing the gully that separates this ridge from the W side of the of the promontory; they also identified a possible cistern, but the relationship of the dun and possible fort to any of these features is not known.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed:  The character of the supposed outwork to the dun indicates this may be a small promontory fort

Location

X:  -644466  Y:  7737640  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -5.789334  Latitude:  56.88986  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Highland

Historic County:   Inverness-shire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Arisaig And Moidart

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:  5.0m

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:  ✓  Possibly a fort overlain by a dun

None:  No details.

Investigations

Although included by Richard Feachem in his Guide to Prehistoric Scotland (1963, 127), it is not clear whether his brief description is based on a field visit.

Earthwork Survey (1880):  Sketch-plan and description by Edward Hamilton (1880, 238-9, pl 1)
1st Identified Map Depiction (1899):  Annotated Vitrified Fort (Remains of) on the 2nd edition OS 6-inch map (Inverness-shire, Mainland, 1900, sheet 135)
Other (1968):  Visited by Helen Nisbet (photographs in RCAHMS collection)
Other (1970):  Surveyed at 1:2500 by the OS

Interior Features

A dun occupies the greater part of the interior

Water Source

The position of the possible cistern is not entirely clear from the desciption provided by the OS.

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

Surface

Partly occupied by the dun

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:  

Number of Possible Original Entrances:  0:  Not known

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Enclosing Works

Single wall cutting off promontory

Enclosed Area 1:  0.04ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.0ha.

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✗  This discounts the dun wihtin the interior

Number of Ramparts:  1

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

Vitrifaction is restricted to the wall of the dun

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:  ✗  

References

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

Hamilton, E (1880) Archaeol J 37 (1880), 227-43

Nisbet, H C (1974) 'A geological approach to vitrified forts, part I: the archaeological and scientific background'. Sci & Archaeol 12 (1974), 3-12

Nisbet, H C (1975) 'A geological approach to vitrified forts, part II: bedrock and building stone'. Sci & Archaeol 15 (1975), 3-16

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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