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The Bothy, fort and earthwork 350m NNE of

A Scheduled Monument in North Kincardine, Aberdeenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.0605 / 57°3'37"N

Longitude: -2.1066 / 2°6'23"W

OS Eastings: 393632

OS Northings: 796613

OS Grid: NO936966

Mapcode National: GBR XP.XBK7

Mapcode Global: WH9R3.MS2P

Entry Name: The Bothy, fort and earthwork 350m NNE of

Scheduled Date: 31 March 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12468

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: fort (includes hill and promontory fort); Secular: 20th -century

Location: Banchory-Devenick

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: North Kincardine

Traditional County: Kincardineshire

Description

The monument comprises the earthwork remains of a promontory fort of likely Iron-Age or early-historic date, with a later phase of use as a 20th-century defensive military site. The monument is located on a coastal promontory and joined to the mainland by a narrow neck of land on its W side.

The fort is defined on its W side by a broad ditch, 9m wide and 3m deep, which crosses the neck of the promontory at the narrowest point. There are traces of an outer rampart to the W of this ditch, oriented NNE to SSW. The E and N sides of the fort are defined by a low bank 1.8m wide and 0.4m high. The interior of the fort measures 45m E-W and 17m transversely at the widest point. Midway along the length of the interior a further bank crosses the fort and curves around to the W at its southern terminal. This middle bank is 1.5m high and measures 15m from N to S; it obscures the views from either end of the fort across its interior. There is no visible evidence of additional contemporary features within the interior of the fort and no surviving indications of where an entrance may have been.

The later reuse of the site consists of a ditch, 8m deep, cutting across the neck of the promontory between the middle bank and the W end of the monument. It is possible that the middle bank is the upcast from this event. The W side of the trench is revetted with granite blocks while the E side is brickwork, both up to 2m in height. The bottom of the trench is concrete and the trench is accessed at its S terminal through a door with a loophole. The N end of the trench is open with views across Broad Haven beach but is bricked to a height of 0.75m with indications of a sill, suggesting a window, probably a gun embrasure. A concrete slab crosses the trench midway along its length to form a causeway to the interior of the fort. There is additional evidence for at least partial roofing with flat concrete slabs.

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

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is an excellent example of a promontory fort of Iron-Age or early-historic date, with evidence of later use as an unusual form of 20th-century beach defence site. The prehistoric ramparts are clearly visible as upstanding earthworks. It is likely that these ramparts overlie buried soils that could contain important information on the environment in which the monument was constructed and contemporary land-use practices. The ditch across the neck of the promontory and other negative features associated with the monument are likely to contain archaeologically significant deposits and important artefactual evidence relating to the use of the monument, the social and economic life of any occupants, and the monument's final phase of use and eventual abandonment.

The evidence relating to the subsequent military use of the site in the 20th century has the potential to significantly enhance our understanding of a specific period of history and type of monument. This is an unusual form of monument, which does not conform to known standard types, such as a pill box or coastal battery. It is likely that this monument was for beach defence and formed part of the Aberdeenshire Coastal Crust of anti-invasion defences dating to the Second World War. As an ad hoc, opportunistic defensive construction, utilising both the natural and existing man-made defensive nature of the promontory, it has an inherent potential to further our understanding of emergency coastal defence fortifications of this period

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located on a small promontory that divides the Broad Haven and Peel Slough beaches, situated to the N and S respectively. On all sides, except the W, the monument is defined not only by the earthwork ramparts but also by steep sea cliffs. This location is ideal for defence or to restrict access for other reasons. It is visually impressive and all these factors may have been important to reflect status.

The monument belongs to a well-documented class of Iron-Age/early-historic monuments with examples known from coastal and inland sites around Scotland and the United Kingdom. There are five promontory forts identified along the Aberdeenshire coast but this is the only substantially extant example known along the E section. Other promontory sites, when excavated, have produced very well-preserved archaeological remains. Potential evidence from this particular example, if compared and contrasted against such existing data sets, has the capacity to greatly enhance our knowledge of the use of this specific class of monument and Iron-Age society and economy in general.

The 20th-century defensive use of the site dates to the period of the Second World War and was designed to make landing on the beaches of either side of the promontory a difficult endeavour. Related to the modification of the promontory itself are some anti-tank obstacles 150m to the NNW. These ensured that should tanks land on the beach their progress from the beach to the coastal plain above was blocked by large concrete blocks, which, if crossing was attempted, would also expose their vulnerable underside to attack. Such groups of anti-invasion structures, with a demonstrably clear relationship between them, are becoming rarer as they are removed for aesthetic, economic and social reasons. This group survives as a good example of a short-lived but widespread and varied class of monument and has an inherent capacity to inform our understanding of this important and pivotal period of history.

Associative characteristics

The 20th-century modification of the promontory fort is associated with the Second World War. It is likely to relate specifically to the period 1940-1, after the fall of France and when the threat of invasion along this stretch of coast was at its height. A number of emergency coast and beach defence batteries and related defensives structures were constructed. A coast battery would fire out to sea and a beach battery, to which this structure seems to be related, was designed to enfilade, or fire along, the length of the beaches on either side.

Historic mapping, dating to the early 1900s, also provides evidence of a longer-standing military association with the site. A rifle range, 540m long, is shown. The range is oriented W to E with a target noted on the neck of the promontory. It is probable that the target was placed on a rampart, which may have been further raised to improve the position of the target.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular later prehistoric/early-historic settlement and defensive sites, and to provide information on the defence of Britain during the Second World War and enhance our appreciation our 20th-century military structures and tactics. The monument retains structural and field characteristics, relating to the two phases of use, to a marked degree, and the prehistoric ramparts and natural defensive location make a significant contribution to the immediate landscape. The physical traces of the more recent use of the site are testament to the intense effort the nation went to defend its shores during the Second World War. As such it has an important place in the national consciousness. The loss or damage of the monument would diminish its potential to contribute to our understanding of the later prehistoric and more recent past.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record this site as Broad Haven, Mains of Portlethen earthwork and possible fort with the number NO99NW 25. Aberdeenshire County Council's SMR records the site as NO99NW0025.

Aerial photograph:

RCAHMS (1985) Oblique aerial view centred on the remains of an earthwork. Archive No: SC 10009510.

References:

Lowry B ed. 1996, 20TH CENTURY DEFENCES IN BRITAIN, AN INTRODUCTORY GUIDE, Practical Handbooks in Archaeology No 12, Council for British Archaeology: York.

RCAHMS 1984b, THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS OF NORTH KINCARDINE, KINCARDINE AND DEESIDE DISTRICT, GRAMPIAN REGION, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Scotland Series No. 21, 31, No. 202, Edinburgh, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

RCAHMS 2007, IN THE SHADOW OF BENNACHIE: A FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY OF DONSIDE, ABERDEENSHIRE, Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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