Aberdeenshire HER - NJ42NE0001 - TAP O'NOTH FORT

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Main Details

Primary ReferenceNJ42NE0001
NRHE Card No.NJ42NE1
NRHE Numlink 17169
HES SM No. 63
Site Form Standing Structure
Site Condition Complete 2
Details Remains of an impressive hillfort. At 563 m above sea level this is the second highest in Scotland after Griam Beg in Sutherland. Two defensive episodes have been identified. The larger, lower enclosure covers a massive 21 hectares with an outwork, a stony wall with a core of boulders, running round the break of slope on all but the steeper southeast side. There are at least 800 platform sites within this enclosure, as well as substantial tracks. The platforms are most numerous on northeast and northwest sides with a few larger ones on the more southerly slopes. Some of these may be quarries, at least near the upper fort. The upper fort consists of a massive stone wall, 6-8 m wide and up to 5 m high, that has been vitrified extremely heavily in places, enclosing a rectangular area. A large cistern in the interior is circa 2.2 m deep. In 1886 MacDonald excavated a section of the upper fort's wall but did not find anything. In 1997, within the upper fort, traces of a previously unrecorded enclosure formed by two concentric banks with a ditch were noted. The banks are circa 2 m wide by 0.5 m high with ditch circa 2 m wide. The bank to the east appears to run under the vitrified fort wall. Also two possible hut circles lie within the northern part of the later upper fort, circa 8m and 5m in diameter respectively. Aerial laser scanning of the fort was carried out in 2015 by FCS and University of Aberdeen. An evaluative excavation in the interior was carried out by University of Aberdeen (G. Noble) in 2017 and 2018. This clarified the structural elements of the interior banks, and the inner vitrified wall and contributed to understanding of how the wall had collapsed and been subject to antiquarian intervention and stone robbing over time. No definite structures or material evidence was uncovered in the interior area explored by the trench. Artefacts recovered included several flint flakes and modern bottle glass. Radiocarbon dates suggest activity for the construction and occupation of this upper fort to be between 5th Century BC and 1st Century BC. Three glass beads, three Roman sherds and a bronze terret were found near this lower enclosure. Evaluation excavations in August 2019 by University of Aberdeen targeted the lower fort enclosure and several platforms identified between the lower and upper fort walls.
Last Update15/03/2022
Updated Bycpalmer
Date of Compilation20/05/1985

Google Map for NJ42NE0001

National Grid Reference: NJ 4848 2931

Event Details

Event DateEvent TypeOASIS ID
1886 Excavation
1983 Excavation
1997 Field Survey
2018 Excavation jamesodr1-407724
2015 Survey
2017 Excavation jamesodr1-407719
2019 Excavation jamesodr1-407725

Excavations and Surveys

Date MDate YTypeDurationDirector / OrganisationAuspicesFundExtent
 1886  MACDONALD   
 1997  Richard StrachanCFA  
82018 Excavation  UOAUOA  
 2017 Excavation  UOAUOA  
 2019 Excavation  UOAUOA  
 2015 Survey  FCSFCS  

Artefact and Ecofact

Date MDate YArtefact TypeFinderRecovery MethodConditionStorage LocationAccess No.
   GLASS BEADS Stray Find  
   BRONZE TERRET Stray Find  
   ROMAN POTTERY Stray Find  


Samples Vitrified rock from main enclosure. Animal bone and organic material recovered from 2018 excavation.
Ecofact Notes

Monument Types

Monument Type 1Monument Type 2Monument Type 3OrderProbability