Archive for Medieval

Cruggleton Castle & Barhullion Fell

The first three days of this last week of survey have seen us at Cruggleton Castle and Fell of Barhullion Fort. Cruggleton Castle, sitting in a prominent position on a rocky coastal cliff, was excavated in the 1970s and 80s. Work revealed six phases of use of the site, dating as far back as the Iron Age. All that remains today are pits cut into the bedrock, believed to be the footings of a prehistoric roundhouse; a reconstructed arch sitting on stone-built footings; and the walls of a small building with adjoining cell. These stone-built structures are perhaps the basement level of the castle. We spent Monday and Tuesday getting to grips with the site and conducting a detailed survey using the GPS and total station.


Wednesday was spent on Fell of Barhullion at the site of a prehistoric fort with chevaux de frise – a defensive system consisting of end-set stones around the site, angled outwards, particularly effective against attackers on horseback. These defences are still visible but survive to only about 0.75m at the most – we spent a good deal of time discussing their possible original form and how impressive and formidable they might have looked. The fort sits on the summit of the fell with spectacular views all around and out to sea. Two concentric rings demarcate the fort, with entrances in the south and north. A large modern cairn sits in the north end of the fort with two intriguing engraved stones set into the south-western side, one marked ‘THE MORLEYS DUMFRIES 1944’ and the other indecipherable, but beginning ‘WA…’. We began surveying the fort but will go back there tomorrow to finish off. There are numerous cup and ring marked rocks in the area, so we hope to identify a few of those as well – so we have a busy few days ahead of us, with lots to do!


Wednesday and Thursday saw us tackling more of the sites around Garheugh. We group surveyed a number of hut circles and enclosures on Wednesday, but the highlight was certainly a long structure built of massive stones. Situated on the bank of a stream in a sheltered hollow, the structure featured a possible entrance with edge-set stones in the west end of the structure.

From here we headed towards Green House Bridge Cairn, a lovely round cairn with exposed cist. The cairn has suffered a good deal of stone-robbing over the year but is nonetheless still very impressive, and the cist is a beautiful example of these prehistoric stone-lined boxes. We returned on Thursday to undertake an accurate survey using the GPS.

The rest of Thursday was spent recording a number of sites in close proximity to Green House Bridge Cairn, including a section of a substantial enclosure just north-west of the cairn; the curved section of wall is more than 2m thick. We also surveyed nearby Cairn Buy, a cairnfield with numerous enclosures and pens, and a farmstead. Our volunteers will surely be seeing stones in their sleep, after having visited all of these drystone constructions!

You can find more information on Green House Bridge Cairn and the other sites at