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Dove Cave Head

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Record Detail

  • Organisation
  • Alternative name(s)
  • Canmore ID
  • Site type
  • Parish
  • Council
  • NGR
    NX 0598 4731
  • Latitude, longitude
    54.783074N, 5.018701W
  • Archaeological notes
    NX04NE 13 0598 4731. (NX 059 473). At the extreme south end of Dove Cave Head, a small fort has been formed by drawing double ramparts and ditches from edge to edge of the 150' high converging cliffs. Excluding the rocky spine at the south end, the interior measures 90' by 60'.The ramparts, turf-covered banks and no trace of stone revetting, now measure c.15' thick at base and up to three feet high, but the outer rampart, of which only a fragment survives, presumably once occupied the full width (20') of the level space between the ditches, which themselves are 20' wide and 1'6"-2'6" deep. The entrance is near the east edge of the promontory, the gaps at the west end of the defences presumably being secondary. There is no sign of internal structures. RCAHMS TS, 1 June 1955 As described. Surveyed at 1/2500. Visited by OS (RD) 9 September 1970 This fort is situated on Dove Cave Head, a steep-sided promontory on the N side of Float Bay. The N approach to the promontory is blocked by two ramparts with external ditches, which cut off an arc measuring 27.5m from N to S by 19m transversely. Although the inner rampart is 0.6m high at two points and spread up to 4.5m thick, it is generally no more than 0.3m high, and at the W end it has been entirely removed. Its accompanying ditch is now little more than a shallow scoop about 5m broad, but the cliff-section on the W shows that it is full of fine silt; only the outer lip of the ditch is well-preserved, and this forms a scarp up to 0.8m high immediately behind the outer rampart. The latter has a more regular profile than the inner rampart and expands from 3m in thickness by 0.2m in height on the W to 6m by 1.2m on the E where it terminates 7m short of the E side of the promontory; the ditch measures up to 4.8m in breadth by 0.5m in depth but peters out short of the cliff-edges on both the E and W. The entrance is at the E end of the defences where there is a well-defined gap in the inner rampart and probably a causeway across the inner ditch; the terminals of the ditch were probably staggered, the short length of ditch 0.9m deep to the E of the causeway lying outside the line of the ditch to the W. About 32m N of the outer ditch a section of ditch 15m in length cuts through the edge of the coastal escarpment on the W side of the promontory. The ditch measures 4.7m in breadth by 0.9m in depth and there are traces of an internal bank up to 3.5m in thickness by 0.3m in height; the bank appears to turn towards the fort along the edge of the escarpment. To the E both the bank and ditch have been obliterated and only traces of cultivation ridges and field-banks are visible. RCAHMS 1985, visited (SH) August 1984.
  • Architectural notes

Related material information


  • 60445 (1951)
    Scanned copy of RCAHMS Marginal Land Survey unpublished typescripts (Wigtonshire).


  • 1330083 (1/6/1955)
    RCAHMS Marginal Land Survey pencil plane table survey drawings,
  • 1330082 (1955)
    RCAHMS Marginal Land Survey inked drawing,


  • 60445 (17/5/1951)
    Field notebook of KA Steer (RCAHMS). 'S6 - Kircudbright, Wigtown'.


  • 60445 (1/6/1955)
    Plane-table surveys; promontory forts at the Dounan and Dove Cave Head.
  • 60445 (1955)
    RCAHMS Marginal Land Survey inked drawing,

1st edition 6-inch maps

TitleDateOther parishes/counties
 Ordnance Survey six-inch to the mile, Wigtownshire, Sheet 271847-8