Tynron Doon is situated one and a half miles from the hamlet of Tynron in Dumfries and Galloway. Access to it is via a steep climb through a Juniper wood to the west and then along a sheep track up to the fort (there is a shorter route but the views approaching the fort are not as worthwhile). It is a multilavate fort with 2 ramparts and 3 ditch's on all sides apart from the south which is a steep cliff face partially covered in trees and the east which has just one rampart and relies on the steepness of the hill for defence. The entrance to the fort is on the west of the fort looking down towards the juniper woods and the village of Tynron. The views from the top are stunning and you can look down on the nearby Grennan hill fort to the east of the Doon. I would recommend a visit to everyone its a lovely spot.
Round Tynron Doon there linger memories of a spectre in the form of a headless horseman restlessly riding a black horse.
The local tradition is, that the ghost was that of a young gentleman of the family of McMilligan of Dalgarnock, who had gone to offer his addresses to the daughter of the Laird of Tynron Castle. His presence was objected to, however, by one of the young lady's brothers. Hot words followed, and in high wrath the suitor rode off; but mistaking his way he galloped over the steepest part of the hill and broke his neck, and so, with curses and words of evil on his very lips, his spirit was not allowed to pass untroubled to the realms beyond.
You can see that that's not a terribly good explanation of him being headless, unless he had a very bad landing. This is from 'Witchcraft and superstitious record in the south-western district of Scotland' by J Maxwell Wood (1911), which it has to be said is a rather imaginative tome.
It's also mentioned in the otherwise serious sounding 'Archaeology of late Celtic Britain and Ireland' by L R Laing (1975), with a 'possible' and less romantic explanation more satisfying to the celtic new age mindset: Tynron Doon is a well-preserved multivallate hillfort in Dumfriesshire, associated in local legend with the 'heidless horseman' who is supposed to have ridden down from it as an omen of death, a story which possibly has some origin in a Celtic head cult.
Robert the Bruce killed his rival, John 'the Red' Comyn, and is said to have hidden out here:
The steep hill, called the Dune of Tynron, of a considerable height, upon the top of which there hath been some habitation or fort. There have been in ancient times, on all hands of it, very thick woods, and great about that place, which made it the more inaccessible, into which K. Ro. Bruce is said to have been conducted by Roger Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, after they had killed the Cumin at Dumfries [...]
and it is reported, that during his abode there, he did often divert to a poor man's cottage, named Brownrig, situate in a small parcel of stoney ground, incompassed with thick woods, where he was content sometimes with such mean accommodation as the place could afford.
The poor man's wife being advised to petition the king for somewhat, was so modest in her desires, that she sought no more but security for the croft in her husband's possession, and a liberty of pasturage for a very few cattle of different kinds on the hill, and the rest of the bounds.
MS. History of the Presbytery of Penpont, in the Advocates' Library of Edinburgh.
From The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott, vol. VII (1822), which is readable on Google Books.
This site, on the summit of Tynron Doon, is basically a multivallate Iron Age fort with an Early Medieval (Dark Age) and Medieval occupation. The final phases include a (?) 16th century tower-house and an 18th-19th century shepherd's bothy.
The Iron Age structures must follow much the same basic plan as the present modified structure ie a central plot defended on the N,E and S by steep natural slopes. The W and NW approaches were defended by two main ramparts and three ditches; several of the ditches are rock-cut. Below the summit on the NE slopes there are prominent remains of a terrace cut into the slope; the terrace is defended by a small rampart but its use is unknown.
No details of the Dark Age occupation are available but presumably the Iron Age fort was merely utilised with few or no major changes. The occupation waste from this period lies below the large nettle patch on the SW slopes.
There is no positive evidence regarding structure changes on the site during the medieval period. It has been suggested that the hill-top might have been modified as a motte and the ditches re-cut some time around the late 12th or early 13th century in order to correspond with general practice elsewhere in the area.
The late medieval period is represented by the base plan of an L-shaped tower-house of (?) 16th century date, at the NW corner of the central plot. The remaining wall plan measures approximately 20 x 42 ft with an extension at the NW corner, 8 x 10 ft, which very probably represents the wheel-stair of the tower.
The structure was demolished some time around 1700-50. There are indications that the hill-top at this period was enclosed within a barmkin wall with a gateway at the SW corner of the tower.
Occupation during the 18th-19th century appears to be represented by a hut circle in the SE corner of the plot; this is very probably the remains of the shepherd's bothy built when the tower was removed to build Tynron Kirk.
Artifacts found either in 1924, or when sections were cut in 1964-7, are in Dumfries Museum. They include fragments of a bracteate pendant, dating to the late 7th-8th century; blue glass beads, fragments of bloomery waste, and vitrification. (Finds are fully listed and described by J Williams 1971).
RCAHMS 1920, visited 1912; L Laing 1975; W Wilson 1957
From the Royal Commission on the ancient and historical monuments of Scotland Database