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Bruce's Camp, hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in East Garioch, Aberdeenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.2611 / 57°15'39"N

Longitude: -2.3855 / 2°23'7"W

OS Eastings: 376845

OS Northings: 819000

OS Grid: NJ768190

Mapcode National: GBR X8.X0G1

Mapcode Global: WH8NW.BR9G

Entry Name: Bruce's Camp, hillfort

Scheduled Date: 31 March 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12523

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Kintore

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: East Garioch

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Description

The monument, known as Bruce's Camp, comprises a fort of later prehistoric date. It is situated on the summit of Shaw Hill, also known as Hill of Crichie, at 170m above sea level.

The fort measures about 250m E-W by about 150m transversely and encloses an area of about 2.5ha. It is enclosed by a stony rampart that measures about 5m in thickness and up to 1.5m in height and includes some evidence of vitrification. In several places, there are traces of a later enclosure wall of relatively recent date extending along its crest. There is an outer rampart extending along the SSW side of the fort and around the WNW end; this is probably the remains of an earlier perimeter. This rampart is now reduced to little more than a scarp 0.5m in height, which closes on the main rampart on the NNW and SSE. Near the centre of the fort, to the south of the dyke bisecting the interior, is a granite cup-marked boulder. The boulder measures 1.4m in length by 0.5m thick and 0.6m high. A hoard of Iron-Age metalwork was discovered on the hill in 1867, under a large stone. This included a terret (a type of harness fitting), two doorknob spearbutts, 13 bobble-headed shale pins and possibly other items, now lost.

Limited archaeological excavation of the monument in 2006 showed that within the interior of the fort were walls, postholes and pits. It was not possible to ascertain the chronological relationship between the inner and outer ramparts. However, a third phase was identified, in the form of a bank or wall that was built between the inner and outer ramparts, following the burning of the inner rampart.

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. The above-ground elements of the drystone wall and post-and-wire fence bisecting the monument are specifically excluded, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

As an 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 up to three 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. Identification as the findspot for the Hill of Crichie hoard of Iron-Age metalwork, one of the few instances of a Donside terret found in association with other objects, enhances the site's significance. In addition, the discovery of an Iron Age (early centuries AD) crucible suggests that metal-working activities may have taken place on the site, another factor that increases its importance.

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 in all directions, including towards the neolithic and Bronze-Age ceremonial complex at Broomend of Crichie, just 1.2km to the NE. The fort is located only 9km from a substantial late-prehistoric or early-historic fort on Mither Tap o' 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.

The possible evidence for later prehistoric metalworking on the monument greatly increases its importance. Of excavated examples, only 17% of roundhouses in northern and central Britain have produced evidence for metalworking. Thus, together with the hoard, the monument has the potential to significantly add to our understanding of domestic craft production in the later prehistoric period.

Associative characteristics

The name Bruce's Camp indicates an apocryphal association with Robert I of Scotland, known as Robert the Bruce, a key figure in Scottish history. There is a tradition that Bruce camped here prior to the Battle of Old Meldrum (AD 1308). There is also a tradition that the Earl of Huntly pitched his camp on the Hill of Creechy (Crichie) before the Battle of Correechie.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it is a good example of a well-preserved, late prehistoric fort with multiple phases evident, 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 within and around the fort. It adds to our potential to further understand settlement patterns and social 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, as well as the somewhat earlier ceremonial complex at Broomend of Crichie. The monument's importance is enhanced by its association with the Hill of Crichie hoard and evidence for metalworking. 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

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as Bruce's Camp: Cup Marked Stone; Fort; No Class (Event) NJ71NE3. Aberdeenshire SMR records the monument as Bruce's Camp: Forts; Guard-rooms; Ramparts; Stones, NJ71NE0060.

References:

Callander J G 1927, 'A Symbol Stone from Fiscaraig, Skye; An Early Iron Age Hoard from Crichie, Aberdeenshire; and Cinerary Urns from Seamill, West Kilbride, Ayrshire', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 61, 243-246.

Chalmers J H 1868, 'Notice of the Discovery of a Stone Kist at Broomend, near Inverurie, Aberdeenshire', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 7, 110-111.

Cook M, Dunbar L and Engl, R 2007, 'A FIERY DEMISE: EXCAVATION OF BRUCE'S CAMP, INVERURIE', History Scotland 7(1), 8-9.

Cook M, Dunbar L and Engl R 2007, KINTORE LANDSCAPE PROJECT SEASON FOUR BRUCE'S CAMP, INVERURIE, Edinburgh: Draft interim report.

Heald A 2001, 'Knobbed Spearbutts of the British and Irish Iron Age: new examples and new thoughts', ANTIQUITY 75, 693.

Hunter F 2001, 'Hill of Crichie (Kintore parish): Knobbed spearbutt', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT 2, 11.

Laing L and Laing J 1986, 'Scottish and Irish Metalwork and the 'conspiratio barbarica', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 116, 211-221.

Pope R E 2003, PREHISTORIC DWELLING: CIRCULAR STRUCTURES IN NORTH AND CENTRAL BRITAIN C2500BC-AD500, unpubl PhD Thesis, University of Durham.

Ralston I and Inglis J 1984, FOUL HORDES: THE PICTS IN THE NORTH-EAST AND THEIR BACKGROUND, Aberdeen: Anthropological Museum, University of Aberdeen.

Simpson W D 1944, THE PROVINCE OF MAR, BEING THE RHIND LECTURES IN ARCHAEOLOGY, 1941, Aberdeen University Studies 1.

Watt W 1983, 'Bruce's Camp (Kintore parish): Vitrification', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT 1983, 11.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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