The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Kemp's Wark

Promontory Fort


Shamefaced erratum: I have replaced all my fieldnotes for this site as I've belatedly realised that I've mistaken it for another visited further up the coast. Memo to self: check map references. Right, try again.... I drove down the minor road to the beach, Broadsea Bay - there's only one gate to open and shut - and parked near the base of the fort, access to which on the seaward side is unfenced. I cast my eyes upward.. how to climb up there? There is a conical outlier on the forts northeast side, which looked to have a path up that was clamberable. This soon petered out though, so I had to zigzag upwards, with a bit of heaving and pulling on bracken and heather. Yes, it was steep. The gradient directly beneath the fort looked even steeper. After cresting the outlier the downslope on its landward side and the final climb up to the fort weren't too bad. As I attained the latter two curlew flew off, calling. They were not the only occupants. There were cattle. Fortunately these were docile and without calves, and vacated the place for pasture inland. What a fine place. The top is of some size and almost bowling green flat, and the seaward side looks like it has been considerably landscaped by the forts builders - it has been squared off. The fort's northern side ends in a drop which, though not sheer, is pretty intimidating. The only raised earthworks on the site were where this northern side of the promotory met the coastline proper, where there are three pronounced but fairly short raised banks with two ditches between, on a roughly NE/SW axis, with what I believe was the entrance to the fort adjacent to the latter. Access to this entrance could have been both by a pretty level path from inland or by a narrow valley which curves clockwise down to sea level and the beach beyond. This looked like it had been considerably landscaped. The entire site on a large scale map would, in a way, look like an elongated comma, the point of which being the approach from the beach. To the south of the entrance commenced a single flat terrace or incision into the hillside which curved round on a level contour about six feet below the site till it ended abruptly on the fort's seaward side. From the beach it looks like a notch on the southern side of the fort's skyline silhouette. The path along the incision is clear, about ten feet wide, with dense gorse on its steep, downhill side. Careful, though, that you don't encounter a tardy cow or two coming round the corner like I did. It was on this path that I found something that made me connect with those that had built and lived here.. stock activity had exposed an distict occupation layer of fine material. I stopped and communed. There was no stone of any description on the site at all, as far as could be seen. All earthworks were just that, earth. Any additional defence would have been probably wooden pallisade. I descended the curved valley from the entrance to find my way blocked at the road by a barbed wire fence, which I climbed, not realising it was open ended at the beach, where I then saw that there was a cattle track climbing it seemed to the fort's summit from by the cattle grid. I wouldn't have wanted to meet its users en route though. Stand on the great beach at low tide, look south towards Killantringan Bay with its dun and Black Head beyond. A fine place. Look up at the imposing fort with that intiguing conical outlier - is that really all natural? Very well worth a visit.. but if you want majestic settings viewed from seaward still a poor second to Dunman.. Dunman's beyond compare on this coast. spencer Posted by spencer
14th October 2015ce
Edited 25th December 2015ce

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