Aberdeenshire SMR - NO88SE0007 - DUNNOTTAR CASTLE

Print site NO88SE0007 Feedback on site NO88SE0007

Main Details

Primary ReferenceNO88SE0007
NameDUNNOTTAR CASTLE
NRHE Card No.NO88SE11
NRHE Numlink 36992
HES SM No. 986
HES LB No.
Site Form Standing Structure
Site Condition Incomplete
Details Remains of a castle, which probably occupies the site of a prehistoric fort. St Ninian established a church here about the beginning of the 5th Century. It may also be the 'Dunfoithir' besieged in 681. In the reign of William the Lion (1165-1214) 'Dunnottar' was the place where warrants were returnable for the Mearns, and 'le castiel de Dunostre' is mentioned at the beginning of the 13th Century. Another castle was erected at the end of the 14th Century. In its final form the castle was forfeited in 1716 and the roofs and floors removed and sold. In 1925 the systematic repair and excavation of the ruins was begun. In its present form the extensive remains date from various periods. The oldest portion is the early 15th Century keep with a range of buildings extending to the E containing stables and storehouses. The gatehouse is approached by a steep path and defended by three tiers of splayed gun-loops. The arched entrance is the only opening on a solid wall of masonry set into a cleft in the rock; a very impressive and dominating entrance. The buildings to the NW grouped round a courtyard date from the late 16th or early 17th Century, including a chapel. A huge water system lies within the courtyard. There is also a bowling green to the W of this later range. The Scottish Crown jewels (The Honours of Scotland) were hidden here in 1651 as it was considered one of the strongest places in the kingdom. In 1685, 167 Covenanters were packed into a small vault (the Whigs Vault) where 9 died due to the terrible conditions. An oval motte was noted in 1970. Watching Brief carried out in 2005 during excavations for a new safety fence along the cliff top; no significant archaeological features were found. Further watching brief undertaken during hand-excavation of post-holes along E edge of castle. Only pit contained any structural evidence, in the form of a flat sandstone block which may have been a base for artillery behind the adjoining bank. In one posthole, near the chapel, fragments of human skull were discovered. Elsewhere there was evidence of domestic refuse in the form of animal bones. Watching brief undertaken by MAS in April 2009 over the excavation of postholes associated with the erection of a new safety barrier. In total, 39 postholes were hand excavated and recorded. All the postholes excavated produced similar fill and indicate that this pathway giving access to the castle was made up ground renewed and resurfaced at various stages. No archaeological features or finds were evident. A watching brief was carried out in March 2011 by MAS over the installation of a new composter. The composter required the digging of 14 postholes, centred on NO 88095 83903. No finds or features of archaeological significance were revealed. In January 2013 a watching brief was maintained by MAS on hand digging of postholes for two new stretches of safety fence, one beside the steps approaching the castle entrance, the other extending the W end of the existing fence. The posthole closest to the castle wall revealed two possible foundation stones of the castle wall, but no other archaeological features were observed. A watching brief was carried out by MAS in May 2015 on remedial works in three areas of the castle. No features were observed during works S of Benholm's Lodging and at the steps leading from the graveyard to the guardhouse. Cutting back of the bank between the smithy and the store to enable construction of a retaining wall yielded a single sherd of internally green glazed pottery of probable 16th century date, and pieces of clay tobacco pipe of probable 17th and 18th-19th century date.
Last Update14/08/2017
Updated Bynackerman
Compiler 
Date of Compilation 

Easting: 388111.548128377, Northing: 783874.417592223

Google Map for NO88SE0007

National Grid Reference: NO 8811 8387



Event Details

Event DateEvent TypeOASIS ID
1925 Excavation
1985 Excavation
2009 Watching-Brief
2005 Watching-Brief
2007 Watching-Brief
2011 Watching-Brief
2013 Watching-Brief mas1-145739
2015 Watching-Brief mas1-220468

Excavations and Surveys


Artefact and Ecofact

Date MDate YArtefact TypeFinderRecovery MethodConditionStorage LocationAccess No.
   STONE VESSEL Stray Find National Museum of Scotland  
91984 MEDIEVAL POTTERY Excavation  

Ecofact

Samples
Palynology
Ecofact Notes

Monument Types

Monument Type 1Monument Type 2Monument Type 3OrderProbability
FORTS SITE OFA95
CHURCHES SITE OFB100
CASTLES REMAINS OFC100
GATEWAYS  D100
PORTCULLISES  E100
GUN-LOOPS  F100
GUARD-ROOMS  G100
PASSAGES COVEREDH100
STORES VAULTEDI100
PRISONS  J100
AUMBRIES  K100
GARDEROBES  L100
STAIRCASESNEWEL M100
CORBELS PROJECTINGN100
KITCHENS  O100
FIREPLACES  P100
STABLES  Q100
CHAPELS  R100
HOUSESPRIEST S100
GALLERIES  T100
MANSIONS  U100
OVENS  V100
SINKSSTONE W100
DRAINSSTONE X100
BREWERIES  Y100
BAKERIES  Z100
STAIRCASESSQUARE AA100
CISTERNSCIRCULAR AB100
LATRINES  AC100
BASEMENTS VAULTEDAD100
12