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Samson's Ribs



Canmore description (1999):
This fort occupies the top of the narrow rocky ridge above Samson's Ribs and is defended around the northern half, where the ridge is most accessible, by a single stone rampart. Elsewhere, the ridge drops precipitously and there are no visible traces of any man-made defences. On the NE, below the crest of the ridge, stretches of the outer face of the rampart still survive formed by large boulders, and in some places standing two courses in height. Along the crest of the ridge, the rubble core of the rampart can be followed as a spread of smaller stones 1.5m thick. A cleft between two outcrops indicates the position of the entrance on the NW, and leads from an external annexe on this end of the ridge into the interior. The annexe is also enclosed by a stone rampart, which can be followed along the N side but is lost on the rocky slope forming the S side of the crag; the entrance to the annexe is on the NW. Within the SE corner of the annexe, the stone footings of a wall extend for about 14m, but its date and function are uncertain. Only one possible structure is visible in the fort, and this comprises little more than an arc of stones on the S and a shallow scarp at the base of rock outcrop on the N.

Finds in and around the fort include (more from associated Canmore records):

In 1969 a fine intaglio-sadonyx (? idealized bust of Alexander the Great), set in the remains of an iron ring, was found by a boy under a stone which may have been part of a structure in the interior of the fort. It belongs perhaps to the 1st century BC, but was presumably lost after 80 AD.

A sepulchral deposit containing a cinerary urn was found, probably in 1846, immediately above Samson's Ribs when the Queen's Drive was being constructed. The urn was broken to fragments by the workmen.

Two Late Bronze Age socketed axes were found in 1846 during the construction of the Queen's Drive. They are both in the NMAS, one (Acc No DQ 89) being donated as Treasure Trove in 1846, while the other (DE 16) was donated by Wilson in 1863. They were found E of Sampson's Ribs (NT 274 725), but W of where the swords described on NT27SE 82 were found (approx NT 279 726). Wilson and Chambers both state that these axes were found along with a pygmy vessel (Chambers wrongly referring to spearheads instead of axes) which was also donated to the NMAS in 1863 by Wilson (Acc No: EC 11). Coles, however, giving no reason, does not accept this association.
Wilson, from the reticence of the labourer from whom he obtained his axe and pygmy vessel, considered that there had probably been more articles in the hoard.
D Wilson 1863; R Chamber 1855; J M Coles 1962; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1862.

Hoard, found near Queen's Drive, east of Samson's Ribs on Arthur's Seat, in 1846.
1140. (Socketed axe: Luncarty variant of Gillespie type). Socketed axe, smooth, green, partly trimmed, oblique scratch marks on blade. Length 92mm, mouth 31 x 35mm, cutting edge 59mm, weight 360gms. (Socketed axe of Everthorpe type). Socketed axe, smooth, light-green, untrimmed, sandy surface encrusted, haft ribs. Length 89mm, mouth 22 x 25mm, cutting edge 44mm, weight 135gms.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
7th November 2012ce
Edited 7th November 2012ce

Comments (1)

You can see the little intaglio in the National Museum. It is exquisite. Howburn Digger Posted by Howburn Digger
25th November 2012ce
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