Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC4218: Ormond Castle  

(Castle of Avoch)

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

HER:  Highland HER MHG8226

NMR:  NH 65 SE 1 (13572)

SM:  4740

NGR:  NH 6963 5358

X:  269634  Y:  853581  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

The remains of Ormond Castle may stand within the remains of an earlier fort enclosing the whole of the summit of Ormond Hill, which forms the low NE spur of Wood-hill. The margin of the summit area all round the hill is defined by a pronounced lip, from which the ground falls away steeply on all sides, along the SE flank some 60m to the W shore of the Moray Firth, but elsewhere between 5m on the SW to 20m on the N. This lip probably marks the line of the rampart of the fort, though it has been roughly adopted by walls enclosing outer wards of the castle, the core of which is rectangular on plan and lies eccentrically across the centre of the fort. Thus defined, the fort measures about 130m from NE to SW by 45m transversely (0.45ha), and at the NE end the rampart was accompanied by an external ditch with a counterscarp bank, while a little further down the slope another arc of ditch with an external bank can be seen; the inner of these can be traced as a terrace some way along the NW and SE flanks. If this is indeed an earlier fort, no structures relating to its occupation are visible beneath the ruins of the later castle and the position of the entrance is unknown, though a track obliquely mounts the SE flank from saddle on the SW.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✓  NOSAS

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed:  Falls well below the 0.02ha threshold

Location

X:  -465349  Y:  7874112  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -4.180302  Latitude:  57.553554  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Highland

Historic County:   Ross-shire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Avoch

Condition

Extant:  
Cropmark:  
Likely Destroyed:  

Land Use

Having previously been under trees, the hillock upon which the castle stands has been cleared

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:  76.0m

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 medieval castle

None:  No details.

Investigations

1st Identified Written Reference (1795):  Noted (Stat Acct, xv, , 638-9 )
Other (1840):  Description of the earthworks (NSA, 14, Ross and Cromarty, 390)
1st Identified Map Depiction (1871):  Named in Gothic type on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Ross and Cromarty, Ross-shire 1881, sheet 90.13)
Earthwork Survey (1883):  Plan and description by Angus Beaton (1885, 402, fig)
Other (1966):  Resurveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1970):  Visited by the OS
Other (1989):  Scheduled as a castle

Interior Features

Occupied by the medieval castle

Water Source

A well is marked on Angus Beaton's plan drawn up in 1883

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

Surface

Castle and its buildings

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

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

Single rampart, but accompanied by and external ditch and a counterscarp bank at the NE end, where there is also an outer arc of ditch with an external bank.

Enclosed Area 1:  0.45ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.4ha.

Total Footprint Area:  

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:  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

Grass-grown rampart

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:  Visible only at one end

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

Beaton, A J (1885) 'Notes on Ormond or Avoch Castle, in the Black Isle, Ross-shire, with a plan and section; and notice with drawing of bronze celts found in its vicinity'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 19 (1884-5), 400-4

NSA (1834-1845) The new statistical account of Scotland by the ministers of the respective parishes under the superintendence of a committee of the society for the benefit of the sons and daughters of the clergy.

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.

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