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Rispain Camp

Rectangular settlement defended by a bank and ditch

Rispain Camp

Home of a tribal chief?
Rispain Camp is a remarkable example of a fortified Iron Age farmstead. Its defences are so well preserved that archaeologists once thought it was either a Roman fortlet or a medieval manor-place.

However, archaeological excavations between 1978 and 1981 left no doubt that it was built and inhabited between 100 BC and AD 200.

At that time the area was occupied by a tribe known to the invading Romans as the Novantae. The name Rispain may derive from the Old Welsh rhwospen, meaning ‘the chief of the cultivated country’. This would certainly be appropriate for this prestigious Iron Age farm.

Impressive remains
The rectangular fort measures about 70m by 50m. It sits within an impressive double rampart and ditch; the latter was originally 6m deep. The entrance causeway breaks the ditch along the north-east side.

The excavations revealed the remains of a large, timber gate, through which the road passed. Within the enclosure were three large, timber round houses. One was fully excavated, and found to be around 13m in diameter and of ring-groove construction.

Highlight
  • The defences – among the most impressive surviving from Iron Age Scotland.




Location

Region – Dumfries and Galloway

1m west of Whithorn, behind Rispain Farm on the A746.

Grid reference - NX 429 399.