BARSALLOCH FORT

A bivallate promontory fortification established in the late Iron Age, Barsalloch Fort was a defended farmstead held by members of the Novantae Tribe. Protected on its South Western side by a cliff, its earthwork defences enclosed an area sufficient for a couple of roundhouses.

History

 

Barsalloch Fort was a small fortified settlement that was probably established around 2,000 years ago in the late Iron Age. A bivallate promontory fortification, it was well protected on its South Western side by the 100 metre high cliff face. Its landward side was guarded by earthwork defences creating a D shaped enclosure consisting of two tall ramparts with a ditch - 10 metre wide and 3 metre deep – between them.

 

Barsalloch has never been excavated and therefore no definite evidence exists as to its role, function or the extent of its occupation. However it was most probably simply a farmstead with the defences enclosing two or three round houses. By the time Roman forces interacted with the area, in the late first century AD, it was occupied by members of the Novantae tribe. Little is known about them as only one reliable historical reference cites them; Ptolemy's Geography was written around AD 150 and was an account of the territories of the Roman Empire. It described South West Scotland as the ‘peninsula of the Novantae'. It is believed their tribal capital may have been Stranraer although some historians claim a site near Clatteringshaw Loch.

 

The arrival of the Romans in the first century AD does not seem to have impacted upon the Novantae unduly. The Romans kept their military footprint relatively small with just an Auxiliary Fort at Glenlochar and a fortlet at Gatehouse of Fleet. This may be indicative of sound relations between the Novantae and the Romans although it is worth noting that when Hadrian's Wall was built in the following century, significant sea defences were constructed opposite their territory. It is not currently known when Barsalloch was abandoned.

 

Bibliography

 

CANMORE (2016). Barsalloch Point. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Feachem, R (1963). A guide to prehistoric Scotland. London.

Fields, N (2005). Rome’s Northern Frontier AD 70-235. Osprey, Oxford.

Konstam, A (2010). Strongholds of the Picts; the Fortifications of Dark Age Scotland. Osprey, Oxford.

M'Kerlie, P.H (1906). History of the lands and their owners in Galloway. Musselburgh.

Rusk, J.M (1930). History of the parish and Abbey of Glenluce with a historical commentary on the settlement of the Romans in Galloway and the introduction of Christianity into Scotland. Edinburgh.

Ordnance Survey, Historic England and RCAHMW (2016). Ancient Britain. Scale 1:625,000. Southampton.

Ordnance Survey, Historic England and RCAHMW (2016). Roman Britain. Scale 1:625,000. Southampton.

Pryor, F (2010). The Making of the British Landscape. Penguin Books, London.

Stell, G (1996). Dumfries and Galloway: Exploring Scotland's Heritage'. Edinburgh.

What's There?

The fort has an almost complete circuit of earthworks enclosing a D shaped area. The deep defensive ditch and sunken ramparts are still visible. The view from the top, on a clear day, is impressive with good views over the Irish Sea and out towards the Isle of Man.

Sea Cliff. The substantial sea cliff provided strong natural defences for the southern side of the fort.

Fort. The fort consisted of a D-shaped enclosure.

Ditch. The defensive ditch surrounding the fort.

Getting There

Barsalloch Fort is located off the A747 around 1 mile south of Port William. A sign-posted lay-by (for three to four cars) is adjacent to wooden stairs leading up the cliff to the fort.

Barsalloch Fort

DG8 9LQ

54.738658N 4.568716W