Vitrified Forts Distribution

Georgraphic Distribution

One of the great mysteries of classical archaeology is the spartan worldwide distribution of vitrified forts with the exception of Scotland..


There are at least 50 such forts throughout Scotland. Among the most well-known are Dunnideer, Craig Phadraig (near Inverness), Abernathy (near Perth), Dun Lagaidh (in Ross), Cromarty, Arka-Unskel, Eilean na Goar, and Bute-Dunagoil on the Sound of Bute off Arran Island. Another well-known vitrified fort is the Cauadale hill-fort in Argyll, West Scotland.

Others include, Dun Mac Uisneachain (Dun Macsnoichan), the ancient Beregoiium, about 9 m. N.N.E. of Oban; Tap o’ Noth, in Aberdeenshire; Craig Phadraic, or Phadrick, near Inverness; Dun Dhardhail (Dunjardil) in Glen Nevis; Knockfarrail, near Strathpeffer; Dun Creich, in Sutherland; Finhaven, near Aberlemno; Barryhill, in Perthshire; Laws, near Dundee; Dun Gall and Burnt Island, in Buteshire; Anwoth, in Kirkcudbright; and Cowdenknowes, in Berwickshire. Dun Mac Tjisneachain is the largest in area, being 250 yds. long by 50 yds. broad. In Barryhill and Laws the remains of small rectangular dwellings have been found.

The evidence from elsewhere shows very few vitrified forts elsewhere, indeed the total number of vitrified forts worldwidde is thought to be less than 100. Some examples are as follows:


Vitrified forts in France are discussed in the American Journal of Science (vol. 3, no. 22, 1881, pp. 150-151) in an article entitled “On the Substances Obtained from Some ‘Forts Vitrifiés’ in France”, by M. Daubrée. The author mentions several forts in Brittany and northern France whose granite blocks have been vitrified. He cites the “partially fused granitic rocks from the forts of Château-vieux and of Puy de Gaudy (Creuse), also from the neighbourhood of Saint Brieuc (Côtes-du-Nord)”. Daubrée, understandably, could not readily find an explanation for the vitrification.


Similarly, the ruins of Hattusas in central Turkey, an ancient Hittite city, are partially vitrified. The Hittites are said to be the inventors of the chariot, and horses were of great importance to them. It is on the ancient Hittite stelae that we first see a depiction of the chariot in use. However, it seems unlikely that horsemanship and wheeled chariots were invented by the Hittites; it is highly likely that chariots were in use in ancient China at the same time.


Some of the ancient ziggurats of Iran and Iraq also contain vitrified material, sometimes thought by archaeologists to be caused by the Greek fire. For instance, the vitrified remains of the ziggurat at Birs Nimrod (Borsippa), south of Hillah, were once confused with the Tower of Babel. The ruins are crowned by a mass of vitrified brickwork–actual clay bricks fused together by intense heat. This may be due to the horrific ancient wars described in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, although early archaeologists attributed the effect to lightning.

Other locations

Vitrified forts have also been found in Yorkshire and Lancashire, in England; Londonderry and Cavan, in Ireland; in Upper Lusatia, Bohemia, Silesia, Saxony and Thuringia; in the provinces on the Rhine, especially in the neighbourhood of the Nahe; in the Ucker Lake, in Brandenburg, where the walls are formed of burnt and smelted bricks; in Hungary.

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    Georgraphic Distribution One of the great mysteries of classical archaeology is the spartan worldwide distribution of vitrified forts with the excepti
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