Dounie Hill Fort

Dounie Hill Fort

The ancient hill fort on Dounie Hill is immediately below the summit of Struie Hill and its telecommunications mast. A sign on the main road (A836) directs visitors to a car park and a pathway that leads up to the Dounie Hill Fort (often referred to as the Struie Hill Fort).

The path to the fort starts along the forest road leading from the car park and after about 400 metres it then loops to the right. After another 250 metres the route to the fort is on the left hand side. It is quite a steep path through forest and it follows a zigzag route to open ground above the forest. At the point where the forest gives way to open ground, an information board provides a brief history of the fort.

The Dounie Hill Fort was constructed in the Iron Age about 2000 years ago on a rocky knoll known as Creag an Fhithich (Cliff of the Raven). Remains that can be seen include part of a rampart, a causeway and a ditch. The fort was established as one of several around Edderton that overlooked and guarded the approaches to the fertile area in which Edderton is situated. The name “Edderton” is derived from the Gaelic “Eadar Dun”, which means between the forts.

The Forestry Commission planted the forest below the fort on Dounie/Struie Hill with Scots Pine, Larch and Spruce around 1952. It replaced a forest of Scots Pine that was felled during the Second World War by the Newfoundland Forestry Corps. Currently (2015) some of the timber is being felled. Re-planting will follow using a mixture of species – Scots Pine, Larch, Spruce and some broadleaf trees that will increase diversity and benefit wildlife.

Source: Forestry Commission Scotland

Historic Scotland’s Description of Dounie Hill Fort

Scheduled Monument 11942 CREAG an FHITHICH

The monument comprises the remains of a simple fort, of probable late prehistoric date. This period known as the Iron Age is generally accepted to be between 800BC and 600AD. The monument is of national importance as a fine example of a small hilltop fortification, which has escaped antiquarian notice until recently. Its relatively simple form and lack of disturbance suggest it retains considerable potential to provide information about late prehistoric defensive settlement. This is of particular significance in this geographical area, which is often regarded as a “frontier” between hillfort building and broch building regions.

The fort is set on Creag an Fhithich, a rocky eminence on the W slope of Struie Hill, at about 125m above sea level. Although its position has a very wide outlook, it is in turn overlooked by a nearby higher eminence to the W and by the upper slopes of Struie Hill itself. The knoll is defined by low cliffs on all sides except the W. On the W, which is the easiest line of approach, a ditch with an outer bank runs N-S at the foot of a slight slope.

The ditch is cut by a causeway at its mid-point. Just to the E of the ditch, and a short distance upslope, are the tumbled remains of a substantial drystone wall, with a gap aligned with the inner end of the causeway through the outer ditch. A second gap at the S end of the walling on the W side may be later. The stone walling appears to continue at least part of the way around the perimeter of the rocky eminence.

The interior of the fort is overgrown, but there are traces of several circular depressions, especially in the SW quadrant, which may represent building foundations of a date contemporary with the ditch and walling. The ditch appears to have been disturbed, to a limited extent, during planting of trees some decades ago.

Splendid views from the east of the site, particularly towards the North Sea from where potential foes could come. Not Vikings though – that would have been later.

   The funding for the footpath to the fort was partly from Highland LEADER