Ancient Monuments

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Danes Dike,earthwork,Fife Ness

A Scheduled Monument in East Neuk and Landward, Fife

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Latitude: 56.2812 / 56°16'52"N

Longitude: -2.5979 / 2°35'52"W

OS Eastings: 363076

OS Northings: 710025

OS Grid: NO630100

Mapcode National: GBR 2Z.8B8Z

Mapcode Global: WH8TM.2D52

Entry Name: Danes Dike,earthwork,Fife Ness

Scheduled Date: 22 April 1996

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6369

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: linear earthwork, dyke

Location: Crail

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: East Neuk and Landward

Traditional County: Fife


The Danes Dike is a substantial linear earthwork which at one time probably enclosed at least the promontory of Fife Ness. Its name derives from a popular tradition that the dike was erected by Viking invaders (Danes or Norwegians) in the 9th century AD. The monument is probably early medieval in date but could be prehistoric in origin.

The dike survives as an upstanding monument over a stretch of some 400m. It runs from the coast just N of a natural mound known as Long Man's Grave, in a northwesterly direction almost as far as Craighead Farm. It is best preserved along its SE-most section (from NO 6353 0945 to NO 6338 0962) where it survives as a substantial grass-covered flat-topped bank, some 4m wide and up to 2m high.

It is revetted with drystone walling on its N side. At NO 6338 0962 (about halfway between the coast and Craighead Farm), the dike has been cut through and damaged by a junction of two tracks. From NO 6338 0962 until just S of the farmhouse, the dike survives as a broad low bank gradually reducing in height, with a farm track running along its top. The dike disappears beneath the farm buildings and golf course to the N.

Geophysical survey and field observation on the golf course N of Craighead Farm strongly suggest that the dike continued NNW across the golf links as far as NO 6290 1054 where all traces of it disappear. The W face of the feature is faintly discernible on the ground surface over part of that distance as a low ridge. Geophysical survey in 1995 located parallel linear features which probably represent the remains of the dike beneath the golf course.

The area to be scheduled encompasses the upstanding remains of the dike to the S and its line as attested by geophysical survey to the N. The upstanding dike is c. 4m wide; geophysical survey indicates that the remains of the dike to the N are spread across c. 8m.

The corridor to be scheduled is 40m wide, allowing a margin of some 15-18m on either side of the dike along its whole length of approximately 1400m in which traces of any activities associated with its construction and use may be expected to survive. The area to be scheduled is marked in red on the attached map.

The legal documents for this Scheduled Monument were amended on 25 March 2011 to exclude the above ground elements of all buildings, modern boundaries and utilities infrastructure as well as the top 300mm of modern surfaces, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the only surviving linear earthwork in Fife and, along its southernmost section, one of the best preserved linear earthworks in the country. At one time, it almost certainly enclosed the whole Fife Ness peninsula and must have provided a formidable barrier.

It is traditionally associated with the Vikings and with King Constantine in the 9th century AD, but could be prehistoric in origin: the enclosed area of Fife Ness includes Constantine's Cave, which contains Roman Iron Age occupation levels of at least the 2nd century AD and Early Christian carvings dating to about AD 800-1000.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NO 60 NW 5


Boece, H. Book X, Chapter XVII.

Johannis de Fordun: Chronica Gentis Scotorum, Book IV, Chapter XXIII.

Mackinlay, J. (1857-60) An Account of 'The Danes Dyke', an Ancient Camp at Fife-Ness, Proc Soc Antiq Scot III, 209-211.

RCAHMS (1933) Inventory for Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, No. 130.

Wyntoun, A. The Oryginale Cronykle, Book VI, Chapter VIII.

Yeoman, P. (1992) Danes Dyke, Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, 32.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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