Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC2912: Easter Rarichie  

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HER:  Highland HER MHG44719

NMR:  NH 87 SW 6 (15300)

SM:  5215

NGR:  NH 8434 7360

X:  284340  Y:  873600  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This fortification crowns a steep-sided knoll at the foot of the NE flank of the Hill of Nigg. The visible remains comprise two elements: a thick-walled round-house enclosed within up to two outer walls occupying the very top of the knoll; and a larger outer enclosure taking in the whole of the summit area and protected by a massive ditch and rampart encircling its foot. In 2013 Candy Hatherley excavated evaluation trenches across the Inner round-house, which measures about 10.5m in diameter within a wall 3m in thickness, and its outer walls. Radiocarbon dates from a range of contexts suggest that these elements of the occupation date 400-200 BC; the outer works, however, remain undated. These latter probably accompany a rampart following the shoulder of the knoll to form an oval enclosure measuring up to 80m from E to W by 48m transversely (0.32ha), though the rampart itself is reduced to little more than a stony scarp and on the E appears to become the outermost wall enclosing this side of the thick-walled round-house. The flanks of the knoll may have been scarped in places, falling away steeply into the bottom of a broad external ditch with an external earthen rampart, which is best preserved in the NE, SE and NW sectors. There is also an outer bank on the SE. The entrance is on the E and approaches the summit up a sloping ramp from the NE.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -439077  Y:  7912328  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -3.944296  Latitude:  57.737273  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Highland

Historic County:   Ross-shire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Nigg

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:  75.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

Excavations by Candy Hatherley have recovered samples that have returned dates 400-200 BC for contexts both within and under the thick-walled round-house and its surrounding wall. The surrounding system of ditches and banks, probably with its inner rampart on the shoulder of the knoll, is not dated.

Reliability:  D - None

Pre 1200BC:  
1200BC - 800BC:  
800BC - 400BC:  
400BC - AD50:  
AD50 - AD400:  
AD400 - AD 800:  
Post AD800:  
Unknown:  

Pre Hillfort Activity:  ✗  

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✓  

C14:  Seven Radiocarbon dates

Investigations

RCAHMS hold a number of photographs, including aerial views taken in 1972 and 1991, while Highland HER also hold several ground views.

1st Identified Written Reference (1836):  Noted as a Danish fort (NSA, 14, Ross-shire, 24)
1st Identified Map Depiction (1872):  Annotated Danish Fort on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Ross-shire 1881, sheet 55.11; Name Book, Ross-shire, No.26, p 20)
Earthwork Survey (1957):  Plan and description for RCAHMS Survey of Marginal Lands (RCAHMS RCD 2/1)
Other (1972):  Resurveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Earthwork Survey (1977):  Marginal Lands plan adapted and description by RCAHMS (RCAHMS RCD 2/2)
Other (1981):  Visited by the OS
Other (1991):  Scheduled
Earthwork Survey (2013):  Marginal Lands plan redrawn on the ground by George Geddes for Candy Hatherley (RCAHMS DC49484 & SC1322638)

Interior Features

Largely occupied by the thick-walled round-house and its outworks

Water Source

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

Surface

Thick-walled round-house and its outworks

No Known Features:  
Round Stone Structures:  
Rectangular Stone Structures:  
Curvilinear Platforms:  
Other Roundhouse Evidence:  
Pits:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  

Excavation

Paving

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

Thick-walled round-house and its outworks

APs Not Checked:  
None:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Pits:  
Postholes:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Other:  

Entrances

See main summary

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  1:  Outer works are incomplete, but the only original access is from the E

Number of Possible Original Entrances:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (East):  Over-lapping:  Possible overlapping terminals, but heavily degraded and uncertain
Entrance 1 (East):  Simple Gap:  Entrance to inner enclosures around the round-house

Enclosing Works

Inner enclosure around a thick-walled round-house, within what is probably a much larger earlier fort

Enclosed Area 1:  0.32ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.3ha.

Total Footprint Area:  1.0ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✓  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  This excludes the inner enclosure around the thick-walled round-house

Number of Ramparts:  3

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  2
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:  1

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

NSA (1834-1845) The new statistical account of Scotland by the ministers of the respective parishes under the superintendence of a committee of the society for the benefit of the sons and daughters of the clergy, 15v Edinburgh

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

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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