Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC2825: West Murkle  

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

HER:  Highland HER MHG1399

NMR:  ND 16 NE 7 (8424)

SM:  

NGR:  ND 1579 6987

X:  315790  Y:  969870  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

A heavily eroded promontory at the head of Clardon Haven is defended on the landward side by a substantial rampart and ditch. The rampart is reduced to a grass grown bank some 7m in thickness and stands up to 3m in height above the bottom of the external ditch, which is up to 4m in breadth. Internally, however, the rampart stands only 1m high, but erosion along the margins of the promontory has revealed a deep deposit containing midden and wall footings. The fragment of the interior remaining measures 27m from NW to SE immediately in the rear of the rampart, by no more than 13m transversely. The position of the entrance is not known.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Unconfirmed:  Falls well below the 0.2ha threshold, but the topographical position and character of the perimeter works indicate that this is a small fort.

Location

X:  -384171  Y:  8096284  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -3.451068  Latitude:  58.608678  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Highland

Historic County:   Caithness

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Thurso

Condition

Heavily eroded along the seaward side

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:  ✓  Heavy coastal erosion

None:  No details.

Investigations

1st Identified Map Depiction (1873):  Annotated 'Broch (Remains of)' on the 1st edition OS 6-inch map (Caithness 1877, sheet 6; Name Book, Caithness, No.11, p 171)
Other (1910):  Description (RCAHMS 1911, 125, no.451)
Other (1965):  Resurveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1971):  Description and photographs by Raymond Lamb (1980, 73)
Other (1981):  Visited by the OS
Other (1981):  Description by R J Mercer (1981, 78)

Interior Features

Elements of walls noted by Raymond Lamb in the cliff-sections, suggesting heavy occupation

Water Source

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

Surface

Nothing visible on the 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:  

Number of Possible Original Entrances:  0:  Not known

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Enclosing Works

Single rampart and ditch cutting off a promontory

Enclosed Area 1:  0.02ha.
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:  ✗  

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

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:  1

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

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

Mercer, R J (1981) Archaeological field survey in northern Scotland: volume II, 1980-81. University of Edinburgh, Department of Archaeology, Occasional Paper No. 7: Edinburgh

Name Book, Ordnance Survey Object Name Books (6 inch and 1/2500 scale); available http://www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/

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