Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC2781: Seanachaisteal  

Sources: Esri, DigitalGlobe, Earthstar Geographics, CNES/Airbus DS, GeoEye, USDA FSA, USGS, Getmapping, Aerogrid, IGN, IGP, and the GIS User Community

HER:  Highland HER MHG11934

NMR:  NC 46 NW 1 (4947)

SM:  5303

NGR:  NC 4055 6943

X:  240550  Y:  969430  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

The triangular tip of this precipitous coastal promontory is cut off on the SSW by twin ditches with a medial rampart. The W end of the flat-topped rampart stands 2m and 1.2m respectively above the bottoms of outer and inner ditches, which themselves measure 11m and 8m in breadth; there is an entrance midway along the rampart. The ground behind these defences rises into a low knoll, the summit of which measures about 12m across and is enclosed by a stony bank up to 1.4m high where it is best preserved on the N. To the W and N, the knoll descends into a confused mass of boulders and outcrops, though there is also a grassy terrace extending along the W cliff-edge to the very tip of the promontory. Leaving aside the enclosure on the summit, which is presumably the remains of a dun, the interior measures about 75m from NNE to SSW by a maximum of 44m transversely (0.18ha) immediately behind the defences, falling away sheer to the sea along the W margin, and descending steeply through broken outcrops on the E.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed:  The topographical position and character of the outer perimeter works indicate that this is a small promontory fort.

Location

X:  -528149  Y:  8090929  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -4.744447  Latitude:  58.583616  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Highland

Historic County:   Sutherland

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Durness

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:  40.0m

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

RCAHMS holds photographs taken by Raymond Lamb

1st Identified Map Depiction (1874):  Annotated Pictish Tower on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Sutherland 1878, sheet 5.4)
Other (1909):  Description (RCAHMS 1911, 54-5, no.158)
Other (1960):  Visited by the OS
Other (1971):  Surveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1971):  Description and photographs by Raymond Lamb (1980, 71-2)
Other (1992):  Scheduled

Interior Features

Featureless apart from the probable dun on the summit

Water Source

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

Surface

The probable 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

The probable dun

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 (South):  Simple Gap

Enclosing Works

Two ditches with a medial rampart cutting off a promontory

Enclosed Area 1:  0.18ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.2ha.

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  This excludes the dun

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✗  The dun is excluded

Number of Ramparts:  1

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

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

While correspondent with the OS suggested this may be a vitrified fort, OS surveyors could find no trace of any vitrifaction

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

Lamb, R G (1980) Iron Age promontory forts in the Northern Isles. Brit Archaeol Rep, British Ser 79. BAR: Oxford

RCAHMS (1911) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland. HMSO: 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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