The Caterthuns are a pair of Iron Age hill forts, sited about 1km apart and each providing wide views of the surrounding landscape. Archaeological investigations have shown that both hilltops have been the sites of multiple phases of occupation. The Brown Caterthun was occupied during the 1st millennium BCE and the White Caterthun from the early 2nd millennium BCE to the 1st millennium CE.
The subject of antiquarian and archaeological interest since the eighteenth century, the Caterthuns were among the first monuments in Scotland to be given official scheduled status (1882) and taken into State Care (1884). The site, which consists of both hill forts, is currently under the Guardianship of Historic Environment Scotland.
Today, visitors to the forts can see the remains of earth banks, ditches, and stone walls (White Caterthun). The large number of gaps in the outer banks of the Brown Caterthun suggest that it was not purely or principally a defensive structure but may have been used for gatherings. Excavations have found evidence of multiple structures and possible indications of cultivation and crop processing. The stone structures of the White Caterthun seem more clearly defensive or intended to affirm dominant status. However, many questions remain about the forts, including the relationship between them and with the other early settlements in the surrounding landscape.
The Caterthuns are surrounded by farmland and situated several miles away from the nearest village. As dominant features in the landscape, they are impressive and intriguing. The climb up to the Brown and White Caterthuns is popular with ramblers and dog walkers throughout the year.
The extent of the hill forts is perhaps best appreciated from the air, an experience beautifully captured in Kieran Baxter’s film, The Caterthuns (2016). This film combines aerial footage, to situate the forts in the wider landscape, with interpretive reconstruction modelling of the archaeological features.