Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC3095: Castle Rock, Auchmithie  

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HER:  Angus SMR per Aberdeenshire Council NO64SE0004

NMR:  NO 64 SE 4 (35531)

SM:  2875

NGR:  NO 6819 4416

X:  368190  Y:  744160  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This small fortification occupies a precipitous promontory overlooking the harbour at Auchmithie. The only possible line of approach is from the SW, and here access is barred by at least two ramparts with external ditches, pierced by a central entrance causeway. The roughly triangular interior measures a maximum of 33m from N to S by 30m transversely (0.05ha). The ditches are up to 5m broad and the best preserved of the ramparts, the middle rampart, forms a bank up to 1.7m high. Excavations carried out between 1969 and 1974 examined the greater part of the interior, revealing a metalled pathway, patches of paving and cobbling, several hearths and a scatter of post-holes, but no coherent pattern can be discerned (Ralston 1986). Likewise the character of the inner rampart and possible evidence of timberwork noted on the N side of the entrance.

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:  -280472  Y:  7676438  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -2.519525  Latitude:  56.588328  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Angus

Historic County:   Angus

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Arbroath And St Vigeans

Condition

Extant:  
Cropmark:  
Likely Destroyed:  

Land Use

Currently blanketed in gorse

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:  30.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

While the presence of a rotary quern may indicate a late-Iron age occupation, the rubbers from saddle querns may be rather earlier. There are no diagnostic finds and while Joanna Close-Brookes (1986) argued the case for the similarity of the coarse stone tool assemblage to that from West Mains of Ethie (Atlas No. 3093), which was associated with 1st and 2nd century artefacts, this is hardly conclusive.

Reliability:  D - None

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

Pre Hillfort Activity:  ✓  Cupmarked stone

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✗  

None:  No details.

Investigations

The excavation archive is held by RCAHMS.

1st Identified Map Depiction (1859):  Annotated Fort on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Forfar 1865, sheet 47.5)
Other (1899):  Description by David Christison (1900, 60)
Other (1956):  Description for RCAHMS Survey of Marginal Lands
Other (1958):  Visited by the OS
Other (1965):  Resurveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Excavation (1967):  By Mr D A Gardner and the Arbroath Antiquary Club (Ralston 1986)
Excavation (1968):  By Mr D A Gardner and the Arbroath Antiquary Club (Ralston 1986)
Excavation (1969):  By Mr D A Gardner and the Arbroath Antiquary Club (Ralston 1986)
Other (1969):  Scheduled
Excavation (1970):  By Mr D A Gardner and the Arbroath Antiquary Club (Gardner 1970; Ralston 1986)
Excavation (1971):  By Mr D A Gardner and the Arbroath Antiquary Club (Ralston 1986)
Excavation (1972):  By Mr D A Gardner and the Arbroath Antiquary Club (Ralston 1986)
Excavation (1973):  By Mr D A Gardner and the Arbroath Antiquary Club (Ralston 1986)
Excavation (1974):  By Mr D A Gardner and the Arbroath Antiquary Club (Ralston 1986)
Earthwork Survey (1986):  By Ian Ralston and Kirsty Sabine (Ralston 1986, 103, fig 2)

Interior Features

Excavations within the interior revealed a metalled pathway, patches of paving and cobbling, several hearths and a scatter of post-holes.

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

hearths

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

The finds were mainly coarse stone tools but include two rubbing stones from saddle querns, a rotary quern and seven stone discs; there was also a perforated shale disc. Later material included a scatter of medieval sherds, a piece of lead shot and a small piece of lead slag.

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 (Southwest):  Simple Gap

Enclosing Works

At least two ramparts with external ditches cutting off a precipitous promontory

Enclosed Area 1:  0.05ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.1ha.

Total Footprint Area:  0.15ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✗  

Number of Ramparts:  2

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

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

Few post-holes and a row of stones in shallow sockets that may 'have served as chocking for timber uprights' (Ralston 1986, 110)

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

Christison, D (1900) 'The forts, "camps", and other field-works of Perth, Forfar and Kincardine'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 34 (1899-1900), 43-120

Gardner, D A (1970) 'Auchmithie: promontory fort'. Disc Exc Scot (1970), 2

Ralston, I (1987) 'The Arbroath Antiquary Club's excavations at Castle Rock promontory fort, Auchmithie, Arbroath and St Vigeans, Angus District'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 116 (1986), 101-15

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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