Ancient Monuments

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Mains of Aberarder, fort 270m south of

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Latitude: 57.2934 / 57°17'36"N

Longitude: -4.2859 / 4°17'9"W

OS Eastings: 262343

OS Northings: 824842

OS Grid: NH623248

Mapcode National: GBR H9SF.X4K

Mapcode Global: WH3G3.4YC6

Entry Name: Mains of Aberarder, fort 270m S of

Scheduled Date: 2 May 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11541

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Daviot and Dunlichity

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument comprises the remains of an unfinished fort, visible as a series of walls, ditches and revetments. The fort is Iron Age, dating to the first millennium BC and forms part of wider pattern of later prehistoric defensive and domestic structures. It lies on a steep-sided narrow sinuous ridge running WSW-ENE, at 280m above sea level, 270m S of Mains of Aberarder.

The fort is sub-rectangular in shape and appears to be unfinished. It measures 80m WSW-ENE by about 45m transversely, within a terrace about 3-4m wide, which is scarped into the steep sides of the ridge. The terrace becomes a ditch in the W and E, where it crosses the spine of the ridge, and in the SE where it crosses a lower spur. There are three breaks, one in the N and one, probably the entrance, in the W, at the easiest point of access along the top of the ridge. Outside the terrace on the NE side is a discontinuous line of earthfast stones, probably the outer face of a wall, surviving for a length of 37m, and in the S, an outer terrace visible, with traces of a boulder-faced revetment along its lower side. The western approach is defended by two outer ditches across the ridge, and there are traces of another to the E. The monument is crossed on the E side by a modern metal post-and-wire fence. A television aerial mast is situated in the centre of the fort, and another is located immediately to the E of the eastern outer rampart.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The above-ground elements of the post-and-wire fence and the television aerial masts are specifically excluded from the scheduling to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument is reasonably well preserved, despite the fact that it has been partly planted with conifers. It is the only unfinished hillfort in the area and its upstanding remains are likely to date to the first millennium BC. Despite some disturbance from later quarrying operations, the monument retains evidence of multivallate defences. Given the upstanding nature of the remains, it is likely that archaeologically significant deposits relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the fort remain in place. In addition, it is likely that deposits survive that could provide data relating to the later prehistoric environment.

The monument has considerable potential to enhance understanding of Iron Age domestic, defensive and ritual activity. Its location next to a pond and boggy place indicates that there may have been interest in the site due to its proximity to a watery place.

Contextual characteristics: The monument is a good representative of a numerous class; 183 forts are known in Highland. As an unfinished fort, however, Mains of Aberarder has the near-unique potential to enhance understanding of fort construction in the later prehistoric period, even without excavation. Unfinished forts are rare, and their distribution in Scotland is thought to be confined to the NE; Mains of Aberarder is on the western limit of the known distribution. Mains of Aberarder is unusual in that it is much smaller than the other known examples and may therefore have the potential to provide insights additional to those that might be provided by the larger unfinished forts.

Within 1km of the fort are several hut circles and associated field systems, banks and clearance cairns. Together, these elements have the potential to provide a better understanding of how later prehistoric society was structured.

National Importance: The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular Iron Age society, the design and construction of hillforts, and the nature of Iron Age domestic, defensive and ritual practice. This potential is enhanced by its relatively good preservation and the survival of marked field characteristics. The loss of the example would significantly impede our ability to understand the Iron Age in northern Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the monument as NH62SW1.

Aerial photographs:

Negative number 1375: CPE/SCOT/WK/255.9 AUG '47F/20"//16600 82 SQDN.

Negative number 1376: CPE/SCOT/WK/255.9 AUG '47F/20"//16600 82 SQDN.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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