Angus HER - NO64SE0004 - CASTLE ROCK, AUCHMITHIE

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Main Details

Primary ReferenceNO64SE0004
NameCASTLE ROCK, AUCHMITHIE
NRHE Card No.NO64SE4
NRHE Numlink 35531
HES SM No. 2875
HES LB No.
Site Form Earthwork
Site Condition Incomplete
Details Remains of a promontory fort shown on the OS maps from the 1st edition map onwards (c.1867). One of six promontory forts along the coast between Arbroath and Lunan Bay, it is a square-sided, sub-triangular projection into the sea, with 30.4m high precipitous sides and a projecting finger of rock at the east end. It is fortified by means of a three curved banks with medial ditches, broken by a central entrance causeway 2.0m wide. The fort was diminutive, the level enceinte being c.30.4m square but it has been considerably eroded on the north, and to a lesser extent on the east. It is not sea-girt and so was protected by the cliffs and its defences, the latter being surveyed in 1958 by the OS. The inner ditch was 5.0m high, its bank only represented by slight traces. The middle bank was 1.7m high and 3.7m broad, the outer ditch was 4.5m wide and its bank was1.0m high. This was slight and considerably mutilated, especially to the north of the causeway, where only the counterscarp was visible. Gardner suspected the existence of a third, outer, defensive line now ploughed flat. There appears to be no support for this suggestion, the defences being the same as described by Christison c.1900. The site was excavated, c.1967-1974, by Mr D A Gardner and the Arbroath Antiquary Club, with assistance from the High School and Academy at Arbroath. It was excavated using a grid of squares (c.1.5m x 1.5m) on an E-W axis, separated by baulks c.1m wide which were sometimes removed to investigate a wider area. 52 of these grid squares were excavated. At least four occupation horizons were discovered, but the site was difficult to interpret due to factors such as erosion and stone-robbing and the thinness of the deposits themselves. Horizon A was a raised path of angular sandstone fragments. It overlay horizon B, a small patch of cobbling of small rounded stones, confined to one of the grid squares. It was not possible to definitely separate this from horizon D. Horizon C was also small, an area of floor of large, flat, water-worn and varied stones which curved around the inner bank, suggesting that the floor post-dates it. Horizon D lies below C and it was the most extensive layer, c15-60cm below the turf level. It mostly consisted of a crude pebble -mosaic- floor of small stones, intermittently sealed by a shallow greasy and dark layer, possibly the destruction layer of a building, the whole being pressed into a pre-dug, sub-circular depression, 14.60m N-S x 9.75m E-W. Various postholes and hearths were associated with this floor and small patches of the pebbles occurred at higher levels, possibly connected with a gateway in the defences. The remains are possibly of a single circular structure with a porch or a series of windbreaks, or lean-to shelters. The interim report of 1970 mentioned -clay walls-, which have been discounted by the time of the preparation of the final report. Within the finger of land at the east a circular cobbled floor, 2.44m in diameter and differing in materials used in horizon D, was discovered. The defences were not greatly investigated, the ditches examined appeared to be modified natural features and possible evidence for a palisade were noted. WWII gun emplacements were placed on or near the promontory, but they were not discovered by excavation. All of the finds from the excavation are in Arbroath Signal Tower Museum. The earliest in date is a fragment of a cup and ring marked stone, probably re-used as building materials. It is 450mm x 250mm x 140mm, water-worn, of sandstone and bears five linked cups, one surrounded by a ring which has been truncated by the break in the stone. It was discovered c.15cm below the turf. There are three fragments of quern-stones, two rubbers from saddle-querns and part of the lower stone of a rotary quern, also probably re-used as building materials. A piece of burnt and vitrified clay and thirty-seven fragments of daub, several pieces of worked sandstone, including discs similar to those excavated at West Mains of Ethie and Hurly Hawkin, and a shale disc fragment were also discovered. Metal working is hinted at by the finding of a piece of lead slag. More recent finds included medieval and post-medieval pottery, clay pipes, a piece of lead shot and 19th-20th century coins. The finds, although difficult to stratify, point to occupation within the early centuries AD, with losses by casual visitors in subsequent ages.
Last Update15/08/2017
Updated Bycpalmer
Compiler 
Date of Compilation 

Easting: 368193.106126953, Northing: 744156.038410431

Google Map for NO64SE0004

National Grid Reference: NO 6819 4415



Event Details

Event DateEvent TypeOASIS ID
1958 Field Survey
1967 Excavation
1968 Excavation
1969 Excavation
1970 Excavation
1971 Excavation
1974 Excavation

Excavations and Surveys

Date MDate YTypeDurationDirector / OrganisationAuspicesFundExtent
 1967  D A Gardner   
 1968  D A Gardner   
 1969  D A Gardner   
 1970  D A Gardner   
 1971  D A Gardner   
 1974  D A Gardner   

Artefact and Ecofact

Date MDate YArtefact TypeFinderRecovery MethodConditionStorage LocationAccess No.
   QUERN-STONE DAG Excavation  
   WORKED STONE DAG Excavation  
   SANDSTONE DISC DAG Excavation  
   SHALE DISC DAG Excavation  
   POTTERY SHERDS DAG Excavation  
   BURNT CLAY DAG Excavation  
   DAUB FRAGMENTS DAG Excavation  
   CLAY PIPE PIECES DAG Excavation  
   LEAD SHOT DAG Excavation  
   LEAD SLAG DAG Excavation  
   COINS DAG Excavation  
   CUP & RING MARKED STONE DAG Excavation  

Ecofact

Samples
Palynology
Ecofact Notes

Monument Types

Monument Type 1Monument Type 2Monument Type 3OrderProbability
FORTSPROMONTORYREMAINS OFA100
DITCHES REMAINS OFB100
RAMPARTS CURVEDC100
STONESCUP & RINGCUP-MARKEDD100
QUERN-STONESSADDLERUBBERE100
QUERN-STONESROTARY F100
STONESSANDSTONEWORKEDG100
DISCSSANDSTONE H100
DISCSSHALEPERFORATEDI100
POTTERYSHERD J100
CLAY BURNTK100
PIPESCLAYINSCRIBEDL100
DAUB BURNTM100
SHOTSLEADCORRODEDN100
SLAGLEAD O100
COINS VICTORIAP100
COINS EDWARD VIIQ100
COINS GEORGE VIR100
RAMPARTS TRIPLES100