Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC3621: Tinnis Castle  

(Thanes)

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HER:  Scottish Borders 49914

NMR:  NT 13 SW 23 (49914)

SM:  2984

NGR:  NT 1415 3443

X:  314155  Y:  634439  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This fort is situated beneath the ruin of Tinnis Castle, which crowns a ridge carved out by a glacial meltwater channel at the foot of the W flank of Vane Law. The castle itself, which dates from the 15th or early 16th century (See RCAHMS 1967, 272-3, no.531), comprises a quadrangular courtyard with towers at the NE and SW corners, and the working assumption has been that all the defensive ramparts lying outside the castle walls belong to a fort rather than an earlier castle on the same site. Be that as it may, the summit area of the ridge, measuring some 60m from NE to SW by 26m transversely (0.15ha), has been enclosed by a single rampart, and the discovery of in situ vitrified stone by RCAHMS investigators in 1959 at the SW end, and loose amongst fallen rubble on the W flank. indicates that it was probably timber-laced. At both ends two further walls have been drawn across the crest of the ridge, the outer on the SW with an internal ditch, while the lower end of the ridge at the SW end is apparently enclosed on the W by a ditch with an external bank, and on the E by a rampart reduced to a scarp. Quite how these various elements functioned as a defensive scheme, and the extent to which they may have been built or modified in the medieval period is uncertain. There is an entrance in the SW end, but the outer of the two walls here has apparently been reconstructed to block access through it, while the entrance visible at the NE end seems to have been the principal approach to the castle, zigzagging up through the ramparts from a well-formed trackway and may be entirely medieval in date.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -374461  Y:  7478411  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -3.363842  Latitude:  55.596017  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Scottish Borders

Historic County:   Peeblesshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Drumelzier

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:  287.0m

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:  ✓  Occupied by a late medieval castle

None:  No details.

Investigations

The Remains of the Castle is shown on Mostyn Armstrong's Map of the County of Peebles or Tweedale (1775. Photographed by CUCAP in 1971 and RCAHMS Aerial Survey Programme in 1981, 2001, 2002, 2010 and 2012

1st Identified Map Depiction (1856):  Named in Gothic type on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Peebles 1856, sheet 16.5 & 6)
Earthwork Survey (1886):  Sketch-plan and description by David Christison (1887, 70-1)
Earthwork Survey (1959):  Plan and description (RCAHMS 1967, 142-4, no.320, fig 134; RCAHMS PBD 142/1-4)
Earthwork Survey (1962):  Plan (RCAHMS PBD 265/1-2)
Other (1970):  Scheduled
Other (1972):  Resurveyed at 1:2500 by the OS

Interior Features

Featureless apart from the castle

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:  

Number of Possible Original Entrances:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (Northeast):  Other Forms:  Complex zigzag approach, probably relating to the castle
Entrance 2 (Southwest):  Blocked:  Thought to have been blocked when access to the castle was constructed on the NE
Entrance 2 (Southwest):  Simple Gap

Enclosing Works

An inner enclosure with two outlying ramparts at either end

Enclosed Area 1:  0.15ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.2ha.

Total Footprint Area:  1.4ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  4

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  1
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  4
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

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:  At the SW end

Annex

Annex:  ✓  The lower earthwork on the SW might be termed an annexe, but its date and purpose are unknown and there is no particular reason why it should be associated with the fort rather than the castle

References

Christison, D (1887) 'The prehistoric forts of Peeblesshire'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 21 (1886-7), 13-82

RCAHMS (1967) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Peeblesshire: an inventory of the ancient monuments, 2v. HMSO: 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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