Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC2935: Auchindoun Castle  

(Auchindown Castle)

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

HER:  Moray per Aberdeenshire Council NJ33NW0012

NMR:  NJ 33 NW 1 (16797)

SM:  90024

NGR:  NJ 3488 3745

X:  334880  Y:  837450  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

The 15th century tower standing within a courtyard and known as Auchindoun Castle occupies part of an earlier earthwork enclosure which is commonly regarded as the remains of a prehistoric fort (Simpson 1929, 127n). The defences of this earlier earthwork comprise an inner enclosure taking in the summit of the hillock upon which the castle stands, and an outer enclosure at the foot of the slope below, springing from the lip of the escarpment where the ground falls away steeply on the SE to the River Fiddich. The inner enclosure is polygonal on plan and measures about 55m from NE to SW by about 47m transversely (0.22ha) within a ditch up to 7m in breadth and flanked externally by a counterscarp rampart. The ditch of the outer enclosure lies roughly concentric to the inner between 15m and 25m outside its line, and again comprises a broad ditch with and external rampart; a curious feature of this enclosure is the way in which the ditch appears to turn outwards along the lip of the escarpment on the NE. It forms an enclosure measuring some 120m from NE to SW along the chord formed by the escarpment on the SE by at least 75m transversely, though the NW sector has been obliterated by cultivation and the SW sector, which also has an old limekiln set into the scarp of the ditch, is also heavily reduced. The position of the entrance is uncertain, possibly lying where the later approach to the stone castle overlies the defences on the W. The scale and character of these defences are such, however, that they would be very unusual in a prehistoric context and they are more likely to be the remains of an earlier earth and timber castle commanding this important route across the hills to the Cabrach and Rhynie.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Unconfirmed:  While usually attributed a prehistoric date, the earthworks around the stone castle would be very unusual in this context and are more probably the remains of a castle

Location

X:  -343526  Y:  7847030  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -3.085944  Latitude:  57.422796  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Moray

Historic County:   Banffshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Mortlach

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:  275.0m

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:  ✓  This is probably a medieval castle anyway. The defences are ploughed down, quarried and overlain by an old limekiln

Morphology/Earthwork/Typology:  Look more likely as castle defences

Investigations

The outlying earthworks are possibly indicated by the depiction on James Robertson's Topographical and military map of the counties of Aberdeen, Banff and Kincardine (1822). Aberdeenshire Council hold aerial views of the earthworks

1st Identified Map Depiction (1868):  Named in Gothic type and ditches annotated Fosse on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Banff 1872, sheet 25.14)
Other (1887):  Description and plan of the stone castle (MacGibbon and Ross 1887-92, i, 314-17)
Other (1943):  Visited by Angus Graham for the RCAHMS wartime Emergency Surveys; noted the earthworks
Other (1967):  Resurveyed at 1:2500 by the OS

Interior Features

Featureless apart from the stone castle

Water Source

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

Surface

Occupied by 15th century castle

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:  

Number of Possible Original Entrances:  0:  Not known

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Enclosing Works

Two wide spaced ditches with external ramparts

Enclosed Area 1:  0.22ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.2ha.

Total Footprint Area:  0.95ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  2

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  1
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:  2

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

MacGibbon and Ross, D and T (1887-92) The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries. 5v David Douglas: Edinburgh

Simpson, W D (1929) 'The early castles of Mar. (First paper)'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 63 (1928-9), 102-38

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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