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Chesters Hill Fort

One of the best-preserved examples in Scotland of an Iron Age fort

Chesters Hill Fort

One of the best-preserved examples in Scotland of an Iron Age fort defended by an elaborate system of ramparts and ditches.

A fortified Iron-Age village

The Chesters is one of Scotland’s best-preserved Iron-Age hill forts. It has never been archaeologically excavated but probably dates to the period immediately before and during the Roman occupation, 2,000 years ago. The substantial remains comprise an elaborate series of grass-covered ramparts and ditches. These defences are particularly impressive at either end of the oval-shaped complex. Even today they offer imposing approaches to the two entrances.

The relatively small, enclosed area still has traces of stone footings of circular houses. Some overlie the inner rampart and ditch, indicating at least two distinct phases of occupation. The same sequence can be seen at <Edin’s Hall Broch> in Berwickshire. This partial abandonment of the defences may be linked to the Roman occupation, when the local Votadini tribe appears to have enjoyed friendly relations with the Roman army.

A curious design flaw

There is one curiosity about the Chesters. The fort is overlooked by higher ground to the south, making the houses within the fortified village vulnerable to attack from arrows and slingshot. This design flaw is a mystery, for almost all Iron-Age hill forts are sited at the highest point in an area. Perhaps this fort was designed more for prestige than for protection.

  • The ramparts and ditches – among the most impressive Iron-Age defences in Scotland.


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Region – Edinburgh and the Lothians