Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC2932: Knock of Alves  

(York Tower)

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HER:  Moray per Aberdeenshire Council NJ16SE0007

NMR:  NJ 16 SE 11 (16214)

SM:  

NGR:  NJ 1627 6295

X:  316270  Y:  862950  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This fort is situated on the Knock of Alves, otherwise better known as a landmark from the York Tower and Fortreath Mausoleum on its summit. The defences probably represent several phases of construction, according to RCAHMS investigators in 1957, breaking down into three components: a smaller inner enclosure on the very summit; an elongated enclosure taking in the crest of the ridge; and two outer ramparts lying lower down the slope. Subsequent OS surveyors struggled to identify some of these elements, nevertheless, the uppermost enclosure is roughly oval on plan and measures about 38m from ENE to WSW by 23m transversely within a rampart reduced to little more than a stony scarp on the WSW and NNW, but can hardly be distinguished along the lip of the summit on the ENE and SSE. Along the N flank the rampart seems to have dismounted from this lip to follow the line taken by the inner rampart of the next enclosure, though in their dilapidated states the relationship between the two is uncertain. This enclosure measures some 125m in internal length from ENE to WSW by 23m in breadth (0.23ha), and though its rampart is for the most part no more than a stony scarp, a run of the outer face can be seen on the SW. At the WSW end there is evidence of an outer rampart, which has probably extended along the NNW and ENE flanks of the hill beneath the later access track that climbs up to the summit on the E, possibly utilising an original entrance into the upper enclosure at this end. Yet further down the slope, the two outer ramparts, which have been levelled by cultivation on the ESE but can be followed from the eastern end along the N flank and round to an old quarry on the W, probably represent yet another phase of enclosure, taking in an oval area measuring 150m from E to W by 55m transversely (0.65ha); no entrance is in evidence. Excavation in advance of a cable trench in 1997 identified a ditch associated with the outer ramparts (Glendinning 1998).

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -378988  Y:  7893887  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -3.404506  Latitude:  57.648734  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Moray

Historic County:   Morayshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Alves

Condition

Quarrying, afforestation, cultivation and the tracks up to the mausoleum have all damage parts of the site

Extant:  
Cropmark:  
Likely Destroyed:  

Land Use

Heavy bracken cover in the openings

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:  103.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

No stratified artefacts no 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:  ✓  Planted with trees, quarried and cultivated in different places and overlain by a mausoleum and the York Tower built in 1827

None:  No details.

Investigations

Aberdeenshire Council also hold aerial views taken in 1977

Earthwork Survey (1957):  Plan and description (RCAHMS MOD 35/1 & DP044253; Feachem 1963, 140)
1st Identified Map Depiction (1962):  Surveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1972):  Revised at 1:2500 by the OS
Excavation (1997):  In advance of a power cable (Glendinning 1998)

Interior Features

Featureless apart from the mausoleam and the York Tower

Water Source

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

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

See main summary

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  0:  Heavily degraded in most parts of the circuit

Number of Possible Original Entrances:  0:  Speculated that it lay on the E where the modern track approaches the summit.

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Enclosing Works

At least five ramparts can be distinguished encircling parts of the hill, though none can be traced along the S flank

Enclosed Area 1:  0.07ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  0.23ha.
Enclosed Area 3:  0.65ha.
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.6ha.

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✓  The relationship at the points of junction between the upper enclosure and the next line of defence is unclear.

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✗  

Number of Ramparts:  5

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  4
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  5

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

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

Glendinning, B (1998) 'Knock of Alves (Alves parish), excavation'. Disc Exc Scot (1998), 66

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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