Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC2962: Maiden Castle  

(Bennachie; Pittodrie Home Farm)

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HER:  Aberdeenshire Historic Environment Record NJ62SE0002

NMR:  NJ 62 SE 2 (18182)

SM:  12012

NGR:  NJ 6942 2435

X:  369420  Y:  824350  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This small fortification is situated on a low hillock that projects from the slope NE of Pittodrie Home Farm to capitalise on the steep slopes falling away on the N and more particularly the E, where there is also evidence of minor quarrying. On the surface the fortifications comprise a single rampart and ditch overlain by a heavily-robbed, circular, stone-walled building measuring about 20m in diameter within a wall 2.5m in thickness. Excavations by Murray Cook (et al 2007; 2008), however, have revealed that the traces of what appears to be an internal quarry scoop to the rear of the rampart on the W is the remains of an inner ditch with an internal rampart enclosing an oval area measuring about 35m from E to W by 29m transversely (0.08ha). Adjacent to the entrance on the S, the outer ditch is up to 5m in breadth by 0.5m in depth, reducing to slighter proportions around the steeper N flank, and the rampart forms a bank 3.5m in thickness by 0.5m in height, but on excavation these proved to be 3m wide by 0.75m deep and 4m thick by 1.6m high respectively, while the inner ditch measured 2.2m in breadth by 1.1m in depth and the inner rampart 2m in thickness by 1.5m in height. Apart from evidence of non-ferrous metalworking, a piece of early medieval decorated glass and a glass bead, there are three radiocarbon dates from contexts below and above the inner rampart, and beneath the wall of the circular internal building, all of them falling in the range of AD 410-640. Secondary rectilinear structures were identified in the trenches in the interior.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed:  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:  -279326  Y:  7823492  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -2.509225  Latitude:  57.308768  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Aberdeenshire

Historic County:   Aberdeenshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Oyne

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:  205.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

Three radiocarbon dates from below the inner rampart, above the inner rampart and under the internal wall produced dates of AD 530-640, 500-650 and 420-610 respectively. Early medieval decorated glass, a glass bead and evidence of non-ferrous metalworking was also recovered.

Reliability:  D - None

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

Pre Hillfort Activity:  ✗  Sherd of Beaker

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✓  Robbed and planted with trees

Artefactual:  Crucibles and metalworking, decorated glass and a glass bead
C14:  Three radiocarbon dates

Investigations

1st Identified Written Reference (1726):  Noted by Alexander Gordon (1726, 162)
1st Identified Map Depiction (1867):  Named in Gothic type on 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Aberdeenshire 1870, sheet 45.13)
Earthwork Survey (1956):  Plan and description for RCAHMS Survey of Marginal Lands (RCAHMS ABD 4/1-3 & DP 147298-9; Feachem 1963, 105)
Other (1973):  Surveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1976):  Resurveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1978):  Visited by Regional Archaeologist
Other (1981):  Visited by the Hill-Fort Study Group
Earthwork Survey (1997):  Plan and description by RCAHMS (Halliday 2007, 98, fig 6.25)
Excavation (2007):  Evaluation by Murray Cook (Cook et al 2007; Cook 2011)
Other (2008):  Scheduled
Excavation (2008):  Evaluation by Murray Cook (Cook et al 2008; Cook 2011)

Interior Features

Largely occupied by a large circular stone-walled building. Excavation also revealed traces of rectilinear structures. Excavation identified traces of rectilinear structures.

Water Source

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

Surface

Large circular stone-walled building

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

Early medieval decorated glass, a glass bead and evidence of non-ferrous metalworking was also recovered.

No Known Finds:  
Pottery:  
Metal:  
Metalworking:  
Human Bones:  
Animal Bones:  
Lithics:  
Environmental:  
Other:  

Aerial

Obscured by trees

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 (South):  Simple Gap

Enclosing Works

A small bivallate enclosure with twin ramparts and ditches overlain by a thick-walled circular building

Enclosed Area 1:  0.08ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.1ha.

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✓  Overlain by the internal ring-fort

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✗  Discounts the overlying circular building

Number of Ramparts:  2

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

Ditches

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

Cook. M (2011) 'New evidence for the activities of Pictish potentates in Aberdeenshire: the hillforts of Strathdon'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 141 (2011), 207-29

Cook, Dunbar and Engl, M, L and R (2007) 'Hillforts of Strathdon: Phase 1 Maiden Castle, Aberdeenshire (Oyne parish), evaluation'. Disc Exc Scot New Ser, 8 (2007), 27-28

Cook, Dunbar and Engl, M, L and R (2008) 'Hillforts of Strathdon: Phase 2 - Maiden Castle and Dunnideer, Aberdeenshire (Insch / Oyne parishes), evaluation'. Disc Exc Scot, New Ser, 9 (2008), 23

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

Gordon, A (1726) Itinerarium Septentrionale: or A Journey Thro most of the Counties of Scotland And Those in the North of England. London

Halliday, S P (2007) The later prehistoric landscape. In RCAHMS (2007) In the Shadow of Bennachie: A Field Archaeology of Donside, Aberdeenshire. RCAHMS & Society of Antiquaries of Scotland: Edinburgh

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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