Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC3073: Kinpurney Hill  

(Kinpurnie Hill)

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

HER:  Angus SMR per Aberdeenshire Council NO34SW0007

NMR:  NO 34 SW 7 (32170)

SM:  3219

NGR:  NO 3227 4177

X:  332270  Y:  741770  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This fort is situated on Kinpurney Hill, which is crowned by the shell of an observatory tower built in 1774, from which it was claimed in 1791 that St Abbs Head, Berwickshire could be seen, along with parts of ten or eleven separate counties (Stat Acct, iii, 1791, 403). Roughly oval on plan, the interior of the fort measures about 360m from NE to SW by 240m transversely (6.83ha). The defences comprise a single rampart accompanied by an external ditch, though at best these are reduced to a scarp dropping some 2m to a narrow terrace, and along the lip of the rocky slope along the SE flank there is little trace of either. Nevertheless, at least four probable entrances can be identified on the NNE, NE, WSW and WNW respectively, of which that on the NE has possible traces of short inturns to either side of a trackway leading up into the interior, while that on the WSW forms a deep re-entrant where the rampart turns inwards to either side of a shallow natural gully apparently facing towards Schiehallion, a distant summit that can be discerned on the horizon some 60km to the WNW; the other two gaps are also in shallow gullies. No clear stances for timber round-houses are visible within the interior, and apart from the tower on the summit the only other feature is a roughly square plantation enclosure of about 1.35ha surrounding it. The ephemeral character of the defences led Richard Feachem to suggest the fort was unfinished, but the slight stature of the rampart in general, and its apparent absence along the SE flank, is entirely in keeping with other large hilltop enclosures and the circuit is probably much as the builders intended it.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -345498  Y:  7671328  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -3.103661  Latitude:  56.563044  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Angus

Historic County:   Angus

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Newtyle

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:  345.0m

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:  ✓  A tower built in 1744 as an observatory stands on the summit

None:  No details.

Investigations

1st Identified Written Reference (1956):  Discovered during RCAHMS Survey of Marginal Lands (Feachem 1966, 70)
1st Identified Map Depiction (1967):  Surveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1972):  Scheduled
Other (1983):  Description by RCAHMS
Other (1999):  Description by Ian Ralston in Angus SMR
Other (2015):  Re-Scheduled

Interior Features

Several level areas but no clearly defined house platforms

Water Source

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

Surface

Partly under old plantation

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:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (Northeast):  Simple Gap
Entrance 2 (Northeast):  In-turned:  Possible inturns to either side
Entrance 3 (Southwest):  In-turned:  Forms a deep re-entrant
Entrance 4 (Northwest):  Simple Gap

Enclosing Works

Single rampart and ditch around most of the circuit

Enclosed Area 1:  6.83ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  6.8ha.

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✗  

Number of Ramparts:  1

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  1
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  1
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  1

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

Claimed as unfinished, and a piece of stone in Brechin Museum labelled Kinpurney Hill is claimed to be vitrified. Neither is convincing in the light of the evidence on the ground.

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 W (1966) 'The hill-forts of northern Britain'. In Rivet, A L F (ed) The iron age in northern Britain. Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh

Stat Acct (date) Statistical Account of Scotland: Drawn up from the Communications of the Ministers of the Different Parishes (Sinclair, J ed), 1791-99

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.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.