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




An obscure one, this. Or so it would appear. Nevertheless Black Hill is mentioned in my battered old Oxford Archaeological Guide (Anna and Graham Ritchie; ISBN 0-19-288002-0), so I decide to take a look... particularly since a visit promises the opportunity to see both a Bronze Age cairn and hillfort at the same time. Two of my favourite things. Nice one.

The site is actually signposted on the B7018 a little west of Lanark - it's apparently owned by the Scottish NT - an (even more) minor road heading west to eventually join the B7086, crossing the southern flank of Black Hill as it does so. At the approx highest point a - currently signless - pole marks a parking spot in front of a gate. Warning signs suggest the area is a prime spot for locals to dump their rubbish, but there you are... only a pile of road aggregate is in evidence today. Hopping over the stile, a curving track brings me to what are apparently the enclosing banks of a later period settlement adjoining the southern-eastern flank of the earlier hillfort... unfortunately the cow, which appears intent of guiding my footsteps, doesn't elaborate.

Crossing another stile, the relatively well preserved eastern rampart of the hillfort leads me to the summit of both hill and enclosure.... like many, it is surmounted by an OS triangulation pillar. However this example happens to sit upon a relatively large cairn, c1m high and of 18m diameter (according to Canmore), the form of which is scrupiously respected by the later defences. What's more, the western arc of the cairn features several large stones still in situ; the obvious inference is the remaining section of a kerb. The northern rampart of the hillfort is also pretty well preserved, all things considered; sadly the same cannot be said of the remainder of the perimeter, although the ramparts are at least traceable, with several large stones visible along the way.

Looking to the horizons there is much to see, Black Hill occupying a prime location overlooking the River Clyde. Tinto, with it's great cairn, dominates the skyline beyond New Lanark (incidentally where early utopian socialist Robert Owen established his model factory), Glasgow, with those distinctive tower blocks, emerging from the gloom to approx north-west. Yeah, Black Hill is not a spectacular site... but combining Bronze Age cairn, hillfort, settlement and extensive views, it has all the attributes for a great couple of hours, I'd say.
11th June 2011ce

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