Ancient Monuments

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Fort, Craig Dorney

A Scheduled Monument in Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.4046 / 57°24'16"N

Longitude: -2.9932 / 2°59'35"W

OS Eastings: 340419

OS Northings: 835350

OS Grid: NJ404353

Mapcode National: GBR L9Z4.TSN

Mapcode Global: WH7LV.Z4TW

Entry Name: Fort, Craig Dorney

Scheduled Date: 15 November 2021

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13746

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: fort (includes hill and promontory fort); Secular: fort (non-pre

Location: Glass

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford

Traditional County: Banffshire


The monument comprises the remains of a fort likely to date to the Early Medieval period (AD 400 – 1000) but with possible origins in the Iron Age (800 BC – AD 400). The fort is visible as a roughly oval-shaped rampart, now reduced to a terrace feature, enclosing the summit of Craig Dorney hill. A lower, second terrace feature and sections of an enclosing ditch are partially visible in the northeast, southeast and southwest quadrants. These features enclose a space approximately 90m northeast to southwest by 50m transversely. The monument is located atop a locally prominent natural rock outcrop, overlooking the natural routeway along the river Deveron, to the southeast, at 410m above sea level.  

The scheduled area is circular and measures 200m in diameter. 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. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above ground remains of boundary features, including fences.  

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 or appreciation of the past, or has the potential to do so. This is a possible multi-phase defensive site dating from the early historic period (archaeological dating evidence indicates the 5th and 6th centuries AD). The form of the monument points to earlier origins, most likely in the Iron Age. It can therefore add to our understanding of later prehistoric and early societies in Scotland and the function, use and development of prominent defended enclosures.  

b.   The monument retains structural components and buried archaeological materials which can make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. The presence of terracing and vestigial remains of ramparts and ditches as well as internal features such as building stances indicates good potential for the survival of features and deposits formed from its construction, use and re-use. This can significantly add to our understanding of domestic settlement, agriculture and economy during later prehistory and early history.

e.   The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past. Limited archaeological investigation of fort's interior has revealed characteristic evidence of the fort's internal space and this included the recovery of dateable environmental remains. This demonstrates the future archaeological potential of the site and the surviving remains within the buried environment here.

f.   The monument makes a significant contribution to today's landscape and our understanding of the historic landscape. It occupies the locally prominent natural outcrop of Craig Dorney and is part of a wider regional distribution of early historic and notably, Pictish sites, centred around the Pictish Royal centre of Rhynie.

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 fort comprises an inner terraced feature and the remains of a rampart, enclosing the craggy summit of Craig Dorney. A second terrace feature is partly visible further down slope and around the northeast, southeast and southwest quadrants. The overall plan of the fort is elongated, exploiting the landform around the summit of Craig Dorney.

Limited archaeological investigations within the fort reveal the presence of a shallow ditch and the position of possible internal platforms or building stances. A sample of charcoal indicates a date of between 430-565 AD, confirming the early historic use of the monument. Monuments of this type in northeast Scotland are also associated with later prehistoric activity. It is therefore possible that this example was first constructed in the Iron Age and re-used over the succeeding centuries.

Hillforts were typically constructed to provide a defendable enclosure on an area of high ground, most often on a prominent landmark such as a hilltop. Within the enclosing ramparts of this site, there are signs of terracing, where domestic, agricultural and industrial activity may have taken place. The lower, partially enclosed terracing may represent a further phase of works here. There is, therefore, 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.

The monument has the potential to add to our understanding of settlement, land-use and environment during later prehistory and in the first millennium AD. 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 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.

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

Forts are known of throughout Scotland. These monuments were sited to take advantage of easily defended locations and often were located to be visible in the wider landscape and inter-visible with contemporary sites. This example is part of a regional distribution in northeast Scotland of similar monuments, occupying dominant landmarks such as hill tops and other prominent natural features – such as the fort known as Tap o' Noth (scheduled monument SM63, Canmore references 17169, 218356, 17214), approximately 10km to the southeast.  The date recovered from the fort suggests that Craig Dorney was one of a number of forts occupied  in the mid first millennium AD, centred around the Pictish Royal Centre at Rhynie, 15km to the southeast.    

There is great potential to study these monuments together, to better understand the significance of their siting and distribution; their inter-related function(s) and their role in later prehistoric and early medieval society. This example has the potential to enhance and broaden our understanding of society and community as well as social organisation, land division and land use. The fort occupies a locally prominent landscape position on top of a hill - all round views from the monument confirm this prominent position and its dominance over a natural routeway, on lower ground to the southeast, along the line of the river Deveron.

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 17275 (accessed on 12/08/2021).

Local Authority HER/SMR Aberdeenshire Council Historic Environment Record - Aberdeenshire - NJ43NW0016 - CRAIG DORNEY Reference NJ43NW0016 (accessed on 12/08/2021).

Online Atlas of Hillforts ArcGIS Web Application ( reference number SC2943 (accessed on 12/08/2021).

Ralston I, 1988, Craig Dorney (Parish of Glass): hill fort in, Discovery Excav Scot, 13

SUERC, 2021, SUERC-98924. Craig Dorney CD20. Radiocarbon Dating Certificate.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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