Ancient Monuments

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Maiden Castle, fort 285m ESE of Rowantree Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in West Garioch, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.3088 / 57°18'31"N

Longitude: -2.5092 / 2°30'33"W

OS Eastings: 369422

OS Northings: 824360

OS Grid: NJ694243

Mapcode National: GBR X2.J1YQ

Mapcode Global: WH8NM.FKCC

Entry Name: Maiden Castle, fort 285m ESE of Rowantree Cottage

Scheduled Date: 12 May 2008

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12012

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: fort (includes hill and promontory fort)

Location: Oyne

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: West Garioch

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises a fort of later prehistoric date. It is situated at the N end of a rocky spur, in deciduous woodland, at the foot of the NE flank of Bennachie and at around 200m above sea level.

The fort measures about 40m E-W by about 35m transversely. It is enclosed by a grass- and tree-grown rampart that measures about 3.5m wide and up to about 0.5m in height. It is best preserved on the west and south, but is less well defined elsewhere and partially removed on the east by more recent quarrying. There is a ditch immediately outside the surviving parts of the rampart. It is also best defined on the west and south, where it measures about 5m wide and about 1m deep. There is a gap in the rampart and ditch on the south, which marks the position of the entrance to the fort. The interior of the fort is occupied by a later enclosure measuring about 20m in diameter and defined by a stony bank measuring about 4.5m wide and up to about 0.6m in height. There are a number of small hollows within the fort and enclosure, which are evidence of undocumented antiquarian excavations.

Limited archaeological excavation of the monument in the 2007 showed that the interior of the fort is much more complex than the surface remains suggest, and that the fort was subject to several phases of occupation and remodelling. The excavations showed that the interior of the fort contains at least 1m of stratified archaeological material. Remains of a second rampart and ditch survive within the fort. The inner ditch is buried beneath an area of later cobbling. The fort also contains the remains of a kiln and a substantial roundhouse with two phases of construction.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around within which evidence relating to its construction and use may survive, as shown in red in the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

As a small Iron-Age fort in good condition, the monument retains well-defined sections of its perimeter bank and ditch. Excavation has demonstrated the survival within the fort of a wide range of well-preserved archaeological material relating to at least two phases of construction and use. A lack of intensive land use across the site, due to its topography and location within woodland, means that the potential for preservation of further archaeological material within and around the fort is high. Potential exists for preservation of buried soils not only within the ditches but also beneath the remains of the ramparts. Such buried soils may provide evidence of the environment within which later prehistoric people built and used the fort. The ditches may contain deposits and archaeological features relating to the construction, occupation, and use of the site, and its association with possible surrounding field systems.

Contextual characteristics

Iron-Age people often sited their forts on rocky knolls and ridges. Defensibility and visibility within the wider landscape are both likely to have influenced the location of this fort, which commands open views over the river Urie and its valley. The fort is located only 2.3km from a substantial late-prehistoric or early-historic fort on Bennachie. The two forts may have been contemporary, offering us an opportunity to better understand the function of such sites within the wider pattern of settlement in the area during the late-prehistoric and early-historic periods.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it is a good example of a well-preserved small prehistoric fort with bank and outer ditch remaining, situated in a strategic location commanding a large area of cultivable land. The monument contains well-preserved archaeological deposits within its interior and there is high potential for the preservation of further material within the ditches and the area immediately surrounding the fort. It adds to our potential to further understand settlement patterns and societal structure during the late-prehistoric and early-historic periods. This potential is enhanced by the fort's proximity to a substantial fort on Bennachie that is likely to date to a similar time. The loss of this monument would impede our future ability to appreciate and understand the late-prehistoric and early-historic landscape and its inhabitants.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NJ62SE 2. Aberdeenshire SMR records the monument as NJ62SE 0002.


Feacham R W 1963, A GUIDE TO PREHISTORIC SCOTLAND, London. Batsford.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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