Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Cleaved Head, promontory fort

A Scheduled Monument in Troup, Aberdeenshire

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 57.6718 / 57°40'18"N

Longitude: -2.468 / 2°28'4"W

OS Eastings: 372184

OS Northings: 864752

OS Grid: NJ721647

Mapcode National: GBR N88F.VH6

Mapcode Global: WH8LX.2F1L

Entry Name: Cleaved Head, promontory fort

Scheduled Date: 8 November 2005

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11021

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Gamrie

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Troup

Traditional County: Banffshire


The monument comprises a promontory fort of prehistoric date, visible as upstanding earthworks. Forts of this type are characteristic of the later Iron Age and Early Historic period (c.100BC-AD700).

The monument occupies the coastal promontory of Cleaved Head, where it sits about 20-25m OD above the shoreline, overlooking the sheltered Bay of Cullen. The most obvious features of the site are two ditches and ramparts, with traces of a third, cutting off the neck of the promontory from the mainland. The easternmost ditch is the best-preserved, having a scarp measuring up to 1.5m high with a counterscarp measuring around 0.5m high. The rest of the promontory is protected by steep rocky cliffs. Later disturbance to the site has removed any evidence for an entrance, but this is likely to have been on the SE side where a comparatively easy route leads to the shore. No evidence of fortification or settlement has been positively identified within the interior of the fort.

Despite its substantial earthwork defences, the site appears not to have been selected for its defensive capabilities; it is overlooked by cliffs on its SE side and would have been vulnerable to missile attack. The ramparts separating the promontory from the mainland would appear to have had more to do with prestige or defining boundaries than with simple defence.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found. It is irregular in shape, covering a maximum distance of 200m from its northeasternmost to southwesternmost points with a maximum width of 87m NW-SE, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area is specifically intended to include the two caves in the cliffs at the sides of the promontory.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance for its potential to contribute to our understanding of society, settlement and economy in the Iron Age. The apparently undisturbed nature of the interior of the forts means that the archaeological evidence may survive well. The location of this site in relation to a sheltered bay opens the possibility that it may retain evidence for exploitation of the sea both in the form of fishing and gathering, and as a local and possibly long distance trade route. The relationship between this site and other promontories along the S coast of the Moray Firth adds to the interest of this monument.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The site is recorded in RCAHMS as NJ76SW4

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.