MHG7152 - Fort - Knockfarrel, Dingwall


No summary available.

Type and Period (2)

  • FORT (Early Iron Age to Pictish - 550 BC? to 900 AD?)
  • VITRIFIED STONE (Early Iron Age to Early Medieval - 550 BC? to 1057 AD?)

Protected Status

Full Description

NMRS notes: NH55NW 10 5045 5850.
Vitrified Fort (NR) OS 6" map, (1959)
A vitrified fort within remains of a probably earlier fort, on summit of Knock Farril, a ridge running NE-SW.
The vitrified fort (of enigmatic plan according to Feachem (1963)) is sub-rectangular on plan measuring c116m NE-SW by c30m within a heavily vitrified wall averaging c4.5m in thickness. No wall faces are evident. It is alleged (visited by OS (RD) 19 1 1965) that entrance is probably in SW but this cannot be established, although it is likely as this is easiest approach. Extending NE along spine of ridge from NE side of fort for a distance of c.25m is a vitrified wall which links fort with what appears to be sub rectangular vitrified enclosure measuring internally about 25m NE-SW ab 5.0m. Traces of a similar arrangement overlaid by a modern track exist at SW end of fort. Here vitrifaction can be seen extending for distance of c50m from fort and terminating on an area of turf-covered tumble on a knoll. Outer facing stones are visible for c8m about halfway along on SE side. These outworks probably represent "look-out posts" similar to that at An Torr (NM66NE) as they overlook NE and SW approaches, both out of sight of fort itself.

In SW half of the interior of fort is a mutilated cistern c5m in diameter. Close by to SW are what may be footings of a rectangular building c8m by c.5m with a sub-circular hollow c.7m in diameter on its NE side, although these could be due to quarrying. It is alleged (Visited by OS (RD) 19 1 1965) that there are 2 circular enclosures, one overlying fort wall in NE, and other outside it in SW, but both of these are recent mutilations. The fort is overlaid by 3 widely spaced ditches of uncertain date and purpose, running NW-SE across spine of ridge. Each has spoil thrown on to its SW rim, forming a slight rampart. The most NE ditch cuts through vitrified walling at SW side of NE "look-out post". An entrance gap c2m wide has been left midway, on spine of ridge, typical of entrance to a fort. The central ditch crosses NE part of fort cutting through vitrified wall in NW and SE. A gap in centre of rampart appears to be a mutilation as there is no corresponding causeway across ditch.

SW ditch cuts through vitrified walling on SE side of spine of ridge halfway along projecting wall at SW end of fort.
Outside are traces of another wall, not vitrified, which probably represents remains of an earlier fort robbed to build vitrified fort. Its course is marked along a change in slope on SE side of hill by a rickle of stones, which is most evident between SE extremity of central ditch and midway along SW ditch which cuts through it. Outer wall facing stones are visible intermittently for a distance of c27m. It can be traced to NE along same change in slope as far as NE ditch, and also to SW where it turns N around base of knoll occupied by SW "look-out post", from where there are indications that it continued towards NW corner of vitrified fort whose NW side probably overlies it.
Outside all defences in SW are remains of a curving wall which bars SW approach. There was probably a means of access around either end of this wall where it stops short of steeper slopes. Not vitrified & uncertain with which phase it is contemporary.
Resurveyed at 1:2500. Visited by OS (A A) 1 December 1970.

The three ditches '...of uncertain date and purpose…' across the defences are the trenches excavated by labourers employed by John Williams in 1777. He was interested in vitrified forts and the letters he wrote to G.C.M. Esq were subsequently published. He mentions that he also had the labourers excavate two features which he subsequently thought to be wells as they filled with water. He also identified what he thought to be several round vitrified buildings in the interior. <1>

Desc + plan Inverness FC 1904 Vol VI, p288 <2>

No change. Visited by RCAHMS (J R S) March 1989.

Martin Hind, Countryside Ranger, concerned about erosion from trail bikes and motor vehicles.
See hyperlinked photos JW 4/12/00

Sub-rectangular in plan measuring 116m NE-SW x 30m NW-SE within a heavily vitrified wall averaging 4.5m in width. At NE and SW ends of fort are sub-rectangular vitrified enclosures that are linked to fort by vitrified walls c25m long. These have been identified as 'look-out posts' overlooking NE and SW approaches to fort. Inside SW half of fort are remains of a mutilated cistern 5m diameter.
Info from HS scheduling document dated 6 March 1997.
Scheduled Monument Management Plan, Received 04/04/01.
This was created by 'Forestry Enterprise' and authorised by HS (Scottish Ministers). See assoc. docs. File.
J Aitken : 19/04/01.

Photographs of this site were submitted to the HER in January 2011 by John Wombell. <3>

Headland Archaeology Ltd carried out a detailed topographic archaeological survey of the fort in June 2011. The survey was commissioned by the Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) in order to provide a baseline record of the earthworks and surviving structural features of the fort. It will also inform conservation management and any future access and interpretation initiatives. A number of photographs of the fort were also taken. <4>

The site was included in the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland online database. See link below for site entry. <5>

A fragment of vitrified stone from the site is listed on the Ashmolean online collections catalogue, Acc. No AN1921.89. See link below. <6>

The NMS catalogue lists a flake of brown flint, donated in 1890 from Knockfarril. A fragment of shale bracelet was also later acquired by the NMS from Knock Farril. It is unclear whether these finds are from the fort itself or from the surrounding area. Acc. No AB 3021 and HH 900. <7>

An aerial photographic survey was carried out at the site in 2021 by Skyscape Survey. The survey was carried out using a camera mounted on a SUA (drone) in order to capture images for processing into a detailed contour plan of the site at 20cm interval, allowing for 3D modelling and survey interpretation. In addition, images were taken of the site from a variety of angles, placing it into the landscape. The area covered by the survey included the site and up to 60m from the outer ramparts to all directions. Using over 895 oblique images across the site, a high resolution 3D model of the site was created and the resulting Data Surface Model (DSM) was processed to remove vegetation, to leave a Data Terrain Model (DTM). A new enclosure was located within the main site bounds, attached to the later rectangular structure, while a possible track was observed on the south side of the ridge rising up to the bank located at the southwest end of the site. The possible earlier bank wall was also traced along the south side, beneath the vitrified rampart. <8>

Sources/Archives (43)



Grid reference Centred NH 50473 58505 (224m by 174m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH55NW
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish DINGWALL

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (2)

External Links (4)

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