Ancient Monuments

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Fort, Doon Hill, Twynholm

A Scheduled Monument in Dee and Glenkens, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 54.8662 / 54°51'58"N

Longitude: -4.089 / 4°5'20"W

OS Eastings: 266027

OS Northings: 554374

OS Grid: NX660543

Mapcode National: GBR JH8V.9PS

Mapcode Global: WH4W4.5Y3D

Entry Name: Fort, Doon Hill, Twynholm

Scheduled Date: 9 August 2021

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13744

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Twynholm

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Dee and Glenkens

Traditional County: Kirkcudbrightshire


The monument comprises the remains of a multi-vallate, sub-oval fort visible as banks and ditches. The fort probably dates to the Iron Age (500BC-500AD) and is surrounded by an 18th or 19th century plantation bank. The monument is located on the summit of Doon Hill, at 105m above sea level.

The remains of the fort comprise of an inner and an outer enclosure. The sub-circular inner enclosure measures around 24m in diameter within a low bank. The sub-oval outer enclosure measures about 65m north-south by 50m transversely within a bank measuring up to 2m in height and is surrounded by an external ditch up to 9m wide. The eastern side of the outer enclosure survives as buried features below ground level. The position of the entrances into each enclosure is not clear.

The scheduled area is irregular. It includes the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s) (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17):

a. The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the past as a possible multi-phase  defensive site dating from later prehistory, most likely the Iron Age. It adds to our understanding of later prehistoric society in Scotland and the function, use and development of enclosures and other defended sites. 

b. The monument is clearly visible as a substantial field monument, displaying two substantial earthwork features and the ground they each contain, making a significant contribution to our understanding of the past. The plan of the monument is clear and understandable. There is also significant potential for the survival of buried archaeological deposits within the monument that are not visible above ground. The monument can significantly add to our understanding of domestic settlement, agriculture and economy during the later prehistory.

c. The monument is an unusual example of a defended prehistoric multiple enclosure. There are not many comparable sites in southern Scotland with and outer sub-oval and inner sub-circular enclosure, possibly representing different occupation phases.

d. The monument is a good example of a defended enclosure from later prehistory. The outer enclosure is a good, representative example of its type and form. The form of the inner enclosure suggests it is possibly later and if so this site a good example of secondary use or development of an enclosed site.

e. The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding of the past. It can tell us about the character, development and use of enclosures, and the nature of society, economy and social hierarchy in this area of Scotland and further afield during late prehistory. Further research and investigation of the surviving buried remains have the potential to explain the precise chronology of this likely multi-phase site.

f. The monument makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the historic landscape by its association with other prehistoric sites in the area, its locally prominent hilltop location and relationship with the surrounding area.

Assessment of Cultural Significance

This statement of national importance has been informed by the following assessment of cultural significance:

Intrinsic characteristics (how the remains of a site or place contribute to our knowledge of the past)

The monument, located on a small hilltop, is a sub-oval enclosure with a smaller sub-circular enclosure within it. It survives as upstanding remains visible as banks and ditches. The two enclosures represent the remains of a prehistoric fort. The overall plan of the monument is clear and understandable although the earthworks on the eastern side of the outer enclosure have been levelled by agricultural activity.

The remains at Doon Hill suggest an Iron Age defended site, possibly with multiple phases of construction and occupation, or re-occupation. The outer defensive rampart and ditch may represent the first phase of site formation. Such a defensive feature was typically constructed to provide a defendable enclosure around the hilltop. At the centre of the site is the inner enclosure visible as a circular low bank. This inner feature may represent a second phase of occupation. 

There is significant potential for the survival of archaeological features and deposits, including occupation and abandonment debris, artefacts and environmental remains such as charcoal or pollen within the monument. It has the potential to add to our understanding of settlement, land-use and environment during later prehistory. It has the potential to provide information about the economy, diet and social status of the occupants, as well as the structure of contemporary society and economy. Study of the monument's form and construction techniques compared with other forts would enhance our understanding of the development sequence of this site and of prehistoric forts in general.

Further scientific study of this site would allow us to develop a better understanding of the nature and chronology of the fort, including its date of origin, the character of the remains and the overall development sequence. This would also help us to understand the relationship between the outer and inner enclosures – if they were contemporary and the order in which they were constructed, occupied, altered, abandoned or possibly even re-occupied.

Contextual characteristics (how a site or place relates to its surroundings and/or to our existing knowledge of the past)

Forts are found throughout Scotland. This example is of additional significance because it is a less common example in southern Scotland with an inner and outer enclosure.

There are other sites in the vicinity which provide important context for the fort on Doon Hill.  Around 450m south-southwest of Doon Hill is the prehistoric fort of Arden, fort 320m SW of (scheduled monument SM1050; Canmore ID 64045). The two prehistoric enclosed sites are inter-visible and if contemporary they may have had complementary or contrasting purposes. Around 2.8km southwest of Doon Hill is the later prehistoric defended settlement of Conchieton, The Doon, fort, Doon Hill (scheduled monument SM7670; Canmore ID 64157). The Doon is a well-preserved example of a complex Iron Age fort with a single entrance and multiple ditches and ramparts. Another prehistoric site in the immediate locality is Prehistoric enclosure, Camp Hill (scheduled monument SM13743; Canmore ID 64145) around 2.3km southwest. The site at Camp Hill also consists of two enclosures on the summit of a hill, the inner enclosure is probably of later date.

There is potential to study these sites together to better understand their functions within the local communities, settlement hierarchy and possible chronological development in the area. The monument has the potential to enhance and broaden our understanding of prehistoric society and community as well as social organisation, land division and land use. This monument offers a rare opportunity to help inform our understanding of possible interaction and relationship between enclosed, defended prehistoric sites.  

The fort occupies a locally prominent landscape position on top of a hill. The monument has views in all directions as a result of its position in the landscape. The monument may have been positioned here to observe or control movement along the valleys below. The prominent siting of the fort may have also been a highly visible statement of presence or power to those living nearby or travelling through the area.

Associative characteristics (how a site or place relates to people, events, and/or historic and social movements)

There are no known associative characteristics that contribute to this site's cultural significance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 64068 (accessed on 30/06/2021).

Local Authority HER/SMR Reference MDG3662 (accessed on 30/06/2021).

Coles, F R. (1893). 'The motes, forts, and doons in the east and west divisions of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright', Proceedings if the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 27, 1892-3. Pages: 146-7 fig.45.

RCAHMS. (1914). The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Fifth report and inventory of monuments and constructions in Galloway, II, county of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Edinburgh. Page: 270, No.471.


HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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