MHG1066 - Poll Gorm Promontory Fort


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Type and Period (2)

  • PROMONTORY FORT (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2400 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • (Alternate Type) BROCH? (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)

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Full Description

On summit of a precipitous coastal promontory are remains of a fort, comprising a circular dry-stone structure further defended by an outwork cutting across neck of promontory on landward approach from SW.
The dry-stone structure, about 20m overall diameter, survives as a turf-covered bank, 4 to 5m wide and up to 0.7m high, which has been truncated in NW arc by erosion of the cliff. The area enclosed by the bank has a somewhat angular appearance (Batey, 1982, describes feature as 'roughly square'), but this is due, at least in part, to removal of turf at some time for an unknown reason; this turf-cutting has exposed a single course of stones defining an inner curving wall face for a distance of about 6m along base of the enclosing bank in S arc. If the curve of the wall were to be extended, it would suggest diameter of 8-10m. The wall appears to end abruptly at its W end, which may suggest an entrance passage at that point. The 'corn-drying kiln and another small structure' noted by Batey are in fact a look-out post with chimney which is known locally to have been used during the 1939-45 war. It is inserted into fabric of fort on E side, exposing a wall core of local sandstone flags fragmented by weather action.
The outwork consists of a turf-covered stony bank and outer ditch, the former being 1.7m above the base of the ditch. Fronting the ditch is a less significant bank, 0.6m high, which has been partially quarried.
The whole extends for 14m across promontory from cliff edge in SE to terminate on a distinct causeway hard against the cliff edge in NW.
The remains of crude, stone-built, bothy-like structures of unknown date and purpose occur on a shelf at a lower level, SE of fort.
The fort cannot be classified with certainty without excavation. Its size and shape, the constructional material and existence of a curving inner wall face may indicate a broch, but, whereas the remains suggest a massive defensive construction, there is insufficient tumble remaining to postulate a monument on scale of a broch unless there has been large scale robbing and/or erosion. There is no reason to suggest that the fort and outwork are not broadly contemporary.
Surveyed at 1:2500. Visited by OS (N K B) 24 March 1983.

A promontory fort formed by two banks, 14m long and 5m wide, crossing neck of promontory. On the promontory itself are a possibly secondary, roughly square structure, 13 by 14m, with traces of walling, a corn-drying kiln, and another small structure.
C Batey 1982.

ND/1703 2949
Possible broch in Latheron, Caith-ness, on a precipitous coastal cliff pro-montory. Little can be seen but the remains suggest a circular drystone structure about 20m in overall diameter. A single course of stones on the south may be the inner wallface. There are outer defences consisting of two banks 14.0m long and 5.0m wide crossing the neck of the promontory. The site could be a broch either within a promontory fort or with outer defences.
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. ND 12 NE 3: 2. Batey (ms) 1982, no. 281. <1>

The fort was visited and photographed by C Jones in June 2011. A 360 degree panorama was taken at ND 17041 29496, starting from the north and turn clockwise to the east, south and west. <2>

The site is included in the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland online database. See link below for site entry. <3>

Sources/Archives (11)



Grid reference Centred ND 1702 2949 (100m by 100m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND12NE
Civil Parish LATHERON
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

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