Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC2797: Kilphedir  

(Kilphader Tower)

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HER:  Highland HER MHG9856

NMR:  NC 91 NE 27 (7000)

SM:  1870

NGR:  NC 9943 1891

X:  299430  Y:  918910  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

The Kilphedir broch is situated in a commanding position overlooking the Strath of Kildonan, occupying the crest of a hillock high up on the northern flank. Around the foot of the hillock, however, there is also a substantial earthwork comprising a ditch up to 6m in breadth, with a counterscarp rampart standing up to 2.5m above its bottom. In places, particularly around the eastern half of the circuit, there are also traces of a bank on the inner lip of the ditch, but this detaches itself from this line on the SE and appears to be forming a smaller enclosure on the crest of the hillock. A gap in the ditch on the NW marks the position of the entrance, and is flanked on the E by a short length of an outer ditch with a counterscarp bank. The area enclosed measures about 60m from NNW to SSE by up to 32m transversely (0.16ha), though aerial photographs suggest that there may also be a rather smaller enclosure occupying the crest of the hillock. The interior around the broch is otherwise featureless. The broch itself, which is largely choked with rubble, measures about 10m in diameter within a wall about 4.3m in thickness, its features including a gallery on the S and a checked entrance passage on the NW.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed:  The surrounding enclosure falls below the 0.2ha threshold, but the topographical position and character of the perimeter works suggest that this is a small fort rather than simply and outwork to the broch.

Location

X:  -413021  Y:  7998410  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -3.710227  Latitude:  58.147706  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Highland

Historic County:   Sutherland

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Kildonan

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:  105.0m

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 occupied by the broch

None:  No details.

Investigations

John Stuart also visited in 1866 as part of his report to Council for the Rhind Bequest (1868, 8). Both RCAHMS and Highland HER hold extensive photographic records of the broch, and RCAHMS aerial photographs taken in 1991 and 2009, and others taken by Ian Ralston in 1979.

1st Identified Written Reference (1864):  Sketch and note by Rev James Joass (1864, 246, pl xv fig 7)
1st Identified Map Depiction (1871):  Annotated 'Pictish Tower' on the 1st edition OS 6-inch map (Sutherland 1879, sheet 79)
Other (1909):  Description and plan of broch (RCAHMS 1911, 104-5, no.307, fig 35)
Other (1938):  Scheduled
Other (1960):  Visited by the OS
Other (1963):  Description by Euan MacKie (2007, 651-2)
Earthwork Survey (1976):  Visited by the OS and planned at 1:1250 by Keith Blood

Interior Features

Traces of a smaller enclosure on the crest of the hillock around the broch, but otherwise featureless.

Water Source

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

Surface

Enclosure bank and broch

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

Enclosure bank and broch

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 (Northwest):  Simple Gap

Enclosing Works

A broad ditch with an external bank, and an outer ditch and counterscarp bank on the NNW

Enclosed Area 1:  0.16ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.2ha.

Total Footprint Area:  0.33ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✓  The inner enclosure on the crest of the hillock summit probably represents a separate construction, but the sequence is uncertain.

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  This excludes the broch wall and the traces of the inner enclosure on the crest of the hillock.

Number of Ramparts:  1

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

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:  one forming a complete circuit, with an outer on one side.

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

Joass, J M (1864) 'Two days' diggings in Sutherlandshire'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 5 (1862-4), 242-7

MacKie, E W (2007) The Roundhouses, Brochs and Wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c.700 BC-AD 500: architecture and material culture, the Northern and Southern Mainland and the Western Islands, BAR British series 444(II), 444(1), 2 V. 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

Stuart, J (1868) Report to the Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, appointed to arrange for the Application of a Fund left by the late Mr A Henry Rhind, for Excavating Early Remains. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 7 (1866-8), 289-307

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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