Barry Hill Fort

One of the best preserved examples of an enclosed hilltop settlement in Scotland.

Viewable from across Strathmore and from the roads around Alyth, Barry Hill fort has not yet been excavated. However, similar monuments elsewhere have been found to date from the late prehistoric period, around 3,000 years ago.

During this period, people began defining and enclosing their settlements. This was a time of climatic deterioration. As conditions became colder and wetter, cultivation of higher altitude land became less sustainable and people began to move into lower lying areas. This contraction of viable land is one suggestion late prehistoric people felt the need to define and protect the land where they lived. Hillforts are a very distinct form of enclosed settlement that emerged during this period of change and there are few examples more dramatic than Barry Hill.

Hillforts are highly visible, enclosed by a single or a series of defensive lines or ditches and stone, timber or banked-earth ramparts.

We tend to think of them chiefly as strongholds, defensive bolts or like modern towns where people made, bought & sold goods and they certainly would have played a key role in prehistoric society, perhaps displaying the power and control of their occupants over the surrounding land and resources. They could also have been important meeting places and played a symbolic role for example being used seasonally as centres for religious rituals.

Often archaeological evidence finds multiple phases of building, defences and occupation activity, sometimes with long spans of inactivity in between.

Whilst Barry Hill has never been excavated, from a detailed topographic survey (a map of the contours of the ground and existing features on the surface of the earth or slightly above or below the earth’s surface) we can identify that Barry Hill has several phases of construction including a later massive stone rampart (now reduced to rubble) enclosing the summit of the hill and an earlier series of stone and earth ramparts which take in a much larger area. Beyond the main occupation phases there is also later disturbance by quarrying for millstone in the 19th and 20th centuries.

 

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