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Hill of Dunnideer, fort, platform settlement and tower

A Scheduled Monument in West Garioch, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.3422 / 57°20'31"N

Longitude: -2.6455 / 2°38'43"W

OS Eastings: 361248

OS Northings: 828150

OS Grid: NJ612281

Mapcode National: GBR M9T9.YN2

Mapcode Global: WH8NC.BQH7

Entry Name: Hill of Dunnideer, fort, platform settlement and tower

Scheduled Date: 5 October 1934

Last Amended: 2 December 2003

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM95

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Insch

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: West Garioch

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises the remains of a prehistoric fort with fine visible lines of defence, and possible related settlement, and a medieval tower, situated in an area of rough grazing on a prominent conical hill at an altitude of 265m OD. It was first scheduled in 1934, but the original scheduling documentation is incorrectly duplicated. The monument is being rescheduled to clarify the extent of the protected area.

The highly'vitrified innermost defence encloses an area measuring 67m by 27.4m internally and is oblong on plan with a contemporary cistern near the W end. Slight traces of outer works appear as a ruinous stony bank which is seen best on the N and E but absent on the steep SW flank. The outermost line of the trivallate defence is represented only by the remains of a marker trench seen as a slight terrace and situated well down the hill to enclose an area measuring about 290m by 183m. Gaps for entrances have been left in the E and W line. The next line is similarly marked'out and lies between 15.2m and 45.7m inside the outermost line. In this case, work on the construction of a rampart has begun on either side of each entrance'gap. The third line is not visible across the steep SW flank of the hill, but is otherwise similar to the outer pair. The fourth line is ruinous stony bank which is feeble at best and absent on the steep SW flank of the hill, but otherwise similar to the outer pair. It probably represents an outwork.

These remains must represent at least two main structural phases, but no evidence exists to indicate whether the vitrified fort preceded the unfinished outworks or vice versa.

An unenclosed platform settlement has also been identified outside the fort on the S slopes of the hill at c. 225m OD. It is centred at NJ 612 280 and consists of five well' defined oval hut platforms. Each has been constructed by quarrying into the hillside and the piling the resultant debris immediately below to form a level area c. 12.0m by c. 7.5m. It appears that these predate the unfinished fort as the marker trench has been diverted so as to miss one of the huts at NJ 6119 2806, and the SW rampart has been built upon and around the outer rim of another at NJ 6115 2812. On the more inhospitable N slope of the hill, at NJ 6119 2826 and NJ 6135 2814, are another two platforms, one smaller and the other larger than those in the group of five, but also probably hut platforms.

Within the remains of the fort lie the remains of a medieval tower. It is a simple rectangular tower, apparently unvaulted, and measures approximately 11m E'W by 9m N'S, with walls that are approximately 2m thick. The masonry is that of rubble brought to frequent level courses by pinnings, which is considered to be characteristic of 13th and early 14th century works. There are two narrow slit windows in the basement and a breached and broken lancet window in the W gable, which is the most complete, standing to a height of approximately 9m.

There is a possible reference date of 1260 to the castle in the Chartulary of Lindores, which may place the castle as one of the earliest authenticated tower'houses in Scotland.

The area to be scheduled is a polygon, centred on the fort, to include the remains of the fort, tower and settlement platforms and an area around in which traces of activities relating to more than one period of antiquity may survive, as shown in red on the attached map extract. Its maximum extent measures 385m WNW'ESE by 271m NNE'SSW. The fenceline following the boundary of the scheduled area on the SE is excluded from the scheduled area.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the remains of a probable Iron Age fort which shows evidence dating to more than one period, a prehistoric settlement and a medieval tower and related features. The fort appears to be unfinished, and has the potential to inform an understanding of the function and construction of such monuments. In addition, information relating to continuity and change in the use of a hill top location can be gained through settlement remains that appear to pre0'date the fort. The tower is a particularly early example and has the potential to inform our understanding of the form and function of this type of medieval monument.

This monument has the potential to provide important information about defence, settlement and social structure in both the prehistoric and medieval periods in this area.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monuments are recorded by RCAHMS as NJ 62 NW 1 and NJ 62 NW 35.


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Cruden, S (1960 a) 'The Scottish Castle', Edinburgh, 126'7.

Feachem, R W (1966 b) A guide to prehistoric Scotland, London, 105, 1st.

Feachem, R W (1966) 'The hill'forts of northern Britian', Rivet, A L F (ed.), The iron age in northern Britain, Edinburgh, 69.

Giles, J (1936) 'Drawings of Aberdeenshire castles', Aberdeen.

Laing, A (1828) The Donean tourist: giving an account of the battles, gentlemen's seats, families, with their origin, armorial ensigns, badges of distinction, carefully selected from the best authorities; and interspersed with anecdotes, and ancient national ballads, &c. &c. &c. Aberdeen, 245.

MacGibbon and Ross, D and T (1887-92) The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, 5v, Edinburgh, vol. 4, 391.

Name Book (County)Original Name Books of the Ordnance Survey Book No. 41, 55.

Nisbet, H C (1974 a) 'A geological approach to vitrified forts, part I: bedrock and building stone', Science and Archaeology, 12, 1974, 6, 9.

NSA (1845) The new statistical account of Scotland by the ministers of the respective parishes under the superintendence of a committee of the society for the benefit of the sons and daughters of the clergy, 15v, Edinburgh, vol. 13 (Aberdeen), 487.

OSA (1791 - 9) The statistical account of Scotland, drawn up from the communications of the ministers of the different parishes, Sir john Sinclair (ed.), Edinburgh, vol. 17, p. 487.

Scottish Castle Survey (1988) 'A directory of the owners and occupiers of the castle, manors and 'town houses' {c. 1050'c. 1707} of Scotland: Grampian Region', Aberdeen, 29, no. 55/1.

Shepherd, I A G (1986 a) 'Exploring Scotland's heritage: Grampian', Exploring Scotland 's heritage series, Edinburgh, 136'7, no. 75.

Shepherd and Ralston, I A G and I B M (1979) Early Grampian: a guide to the archaeology, Aberdeen, 23.

Simpson, W D (1935 b) 'The Castle of Dunnideer and Wardhouse in the Garioch, Aberdeenshire', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 69, 1934'5, 460'6.

Simpson, W D (1941 a) 'The red castle of Lunan Bay', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 75, 1940'1, 116.

Simpson, W D (1943 b) The province of Mar: being the Rhind lectures in archaeology, 1941, Aberdeen University Studies, 121, Aberdeen, 131.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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