Tynron Doon

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Site Type FORT
Canmore ID 65300
Site Number NX89SW 1
NGR NX 81970 93927
Former District NITHSDALE
Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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Notes and Activities

Archaeological Notes

NX89SW 1 81970 93927.

(NX 8196 9392) Earthwork (NAT)
OS 6" map (1957)

For (approximately provenanced) bronze objects tentatively suggested (by Laing) as coming from Tynron Doon, see NY18SW 106.

This site, on the summit of Tynron Doon, is basically a multivallate Iron Age fort with an Early Medieval (Dark Age) and Medieval occupation. The final phases include a (?) 16th century tower-house and an 18th-19th century shepherd's bothy.
The Iron Age structures must follow much the same basic plan as the present modified structure ie a central plot defended on the N,E and S by steep natural slopes. The W and NW approaches were defended by two main ramparts and three ditches; several of the ditches are rock-cut. Below the summit on the NE slopes there are prominent remains of a terrace cut into the slope; the terrace is defended by a small rampart but its use is unknown.
No details of the Dark Age occupation are available but presumably the Iron Age fort was merely utilised with few or no major changes. The occupation waste from this period lies below the large nettle patch on the SW slopes.
There is no positive evidence regarding structure changes on the site during the medieval period. It has been suggested that the hill-top might have been modified as a motte and the ditches re-cut some time around the late 12th or early 13th century in order to correspond with general practice elsewhere in the area.
The late medieval period is represented by the base plan of an L-shaped tower-house of (?) 16th century date, at the NW corner of the central plot. The remaining wall plan measures approximately 20 x 42 ft with an extension at the NW corner, 8 x 10 ft, which very probably represents the wheel-stair of the tower.
The structure was demolished some time around 1700-50. There are indications that the hill-top at this period was enclosed within a barmkin wall with a gateway at the SW corner of the tower.
Occupation during the 18th-19th century appears to be represented by a hut circle in the SE corner of the plot; this is very probably the remains of the shepherd's bothy built when the tower was removed to build Tynron Kirk.
Artifacts found either in 1924, or when sections were cut in 1964-7, are in Dumfries Museum. They include fragments of a bracteate pendant, dating to the late 7th-8th century; blue glass beads, fragments of bloomery waste, and vitrification. (Finds are fully listed and described by J Williams 1971).
RCAHMS 1920, visited 1912; L Laing 1975; W Wilson 1957

A multivallate promontory fort with a strategic 'platform' annexe cut into the steep natural slopes on the NE side.
The triple turf-covered shale ramparts on the W side, up to 6.5m high, are broken by a staggered entrance in the SW which leads to an undulating plateau top overall 60.0m E-W by 55.0m N-S. There is no suggestion that the ramparts, ditches or terraces have been later recut or modified, although the top has low linear banks roughly following its perimeter which are feasibly connected with the early or late Md occupation.
There is no surface trace of the tower-house at the position indicated, but the perimeter banks are consistent in scale with a barmkin arrangement.
At the SW corner of the top, near the entrance way, is a stony circular bank, 1.5m wide, of a former structure measuring overall 8.5 diameter and 0.3m high. It is contiguous with the perimeter banks and does not have the form of a hut circle.
Surveyed at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (JRL) 28 November 1977

This fort is visible on vertical air photographs, (OS 73/396/276-7, flown 1973).
Information from RCAHMS (DE) August 1996

Books and References

Laing, L R (1975c) The archaeology of late Celtic Britain and Ireland c. 400-1200 AD, London
Page(s): 33 illust Held at RCAHMS C.1.5.LAI

Maxwell-Irving, A M T (2000) The Border towers of Scotland: their history and architecture: the West March, [S.l.]
Page(s): 280 Held at RCAHMS F.5.21.MAX

RCAHMS (1920) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Seventh report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Dumfries, Edinburgh
Page(s): 207-8, No.609 fig.148 Held at RCAHMS A.1.1.INV(7)

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Charity SC026749