Kaimes Hill Cairn, Fort and site of Cup and Ring Marked Rocks
With weather so atrocious, I had to write these notes back in the car. The rain was horizontal up there thanks to the howling gale. I struggled up a very muddy path on the back of Kaimes Hill. The powers that be quarried most of this monument and have now filled it. The huge fencing around what used to be the quarry has been ripped down and now there are ominous pipes and huge valves dotted all over the hill. These valves emit a stench so intense that I was actually gagging and swallowing back vomit on the way back down. Jeez- why are there no warning signs about this? On the old fence is a sign about contractors not being responsible and about parents warning kids about this place! I made it almost up to the site of the cup and ring marked rocks, but was met by a fence and an impenetrable jungle of vegetation. It's difficult to say how much of the fort remains and I guess most of the cairn has been destroyed. My advice- stay away from this horrible place and just visit the neighbouring Dalmahoy Hill.
From the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) web database;
On the cup and ring markings, 'Situated 120m E of the hilltop, 3m S of the N edge of the ridge, but now all removed in road-making, were the tops of many basalt columns. On some of these interspersed by turf and sloping where carved 0-10 degrees were carved at least 16 cup and rings, 3 with two rings, the rest probably with one, all rings probably un-gapped, and some with a groove leading outwards from the cup or ring. Two small blocks were cut off before the site was destroyed and moved to the Scottish Development Department in Edinburgh and two more in the masons store in the Linlithgow Palace. One of the former bears 2 cups and two rings which are tangential, and one of the latter has a cup only. Greatest diameter is 25cm (6in) and carvings depths up to 3cm (1 in). Casts of parts are in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS Accession nos 50-56).'
On the cairn, '(NT1313665) Excavation work was carried out on the summit of Kaimes Hill in advance of quarrying. A portion of low round cairn with massive revetment was examined. No small finds were made and the central area had been disturbed by a war time field work.'
On the fort,'The fort on Kaimes Hill is being destroyed by quarrying which will ultimately remove the whole of the hill. It was first planned by Coles (1896) and later by the RCAHMS before quarrying started. The first excavations were carried out by Childe (1941) in 1940, and further excavations have taken place from 1964-72. In 1967, only the ramparts on the S and W sides of the hill were still preserved. Here, ground surveys and aerial photographs have revealed lines of ramparts, numbered 1-7 from those on the summit to the outermost.
The excavations revealed three main structural phases, starting with a univallate, timber-laced fort represented by rampart 1. The outer face of this rampart survived to a height of 5ft, but the inner face was marked only by a number of massive slabs, not set contiguously; the thickness was approximately 12ft; the core of the rampart was composed of a number of stones, some vitrified, and occupation debris including slag and animal bones. Traces of carbonised timbers were also noted at its base.
In phase 2, rampart 1 was replaced by a rubble-cored, stone faced rampart (no. 2) which in some areas overlay rampart 1 and in other areas lay immediately in front of it; the entrance through rampart 1 was remodelled. Ramparts 3 and 4, which survive in a fragmentary state, are similar in plan and are probably contemporary. A radio-carbon date of 365±90 BC was obtained from some twigs from the core of rampart 2. The final phase consist of the rubble and turf rampart 7 as its major structures and the gaps in the E end of ramparts 1-4 which continue the line of the entrances through 5-7 may also have been constructed at this time. The main object of these additional ramparts appears to have been to enclose the platform on the NE side of the hill on which at least 15 hut circles are visible, marked by stone footings and turf-covered banks.
South of rampart 7 and east of the entrance a series of stone slabs- chevaux de fries- projects from the turf and can be traced down the slope fro some 100ft. Among the huts excavated, one overlay rampart 1; an anomalous radio-carbon date of 1191±90 BC was obtained from a piece of carbonised wood found in its wall filling.
Many artefacts, now in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS) have come from this site, either as stray finds or from the excavations. Among them are; microliths, cup and ring marked stones, various jet, flint and stone artefacts, Iron Age pottery, Roman pottery (of 3rd Century AD date) and a denarius of Severus.'
NB- whole site quarried away by 1986.