So, I stumbled upon this request from Ivan Golenischev to do a Google search for 'Vitrified Fort'. And hmpf! I am not sure we spoke of these fortresses before on this website, so here it goes:
Vitrified fortVitrified forts are stone enclosures whose walls have been subjected to vitrification through heat. It was long thought that these structures were unique to Scotland, but they have since been identified in several other parts of western and northern Europe.
Vitrified forts are generally situated on hills offering strong defensive positions. Their form seems to have been determined by the contour of the flat summits which they enclose. The walls vary in size, a few being upwards of 12 feet (3.7 m) high, and are so broad that they present the appearance of embankments. Weak parts of the defence are strengthened by double or triple walls, and occasionally vast lines of ramparts, composed of large blocks of unhewn and unvitrified stones, envelop the vitrified centre at some distance from it. The walls themselves are termed vitrified ramparts.
No lime or cement has been found in any of these structures, all of them presenting the peculiarity of being more or less consolidated by the fusion of the rocks of which they are built. This fusion, which has been caused by the application of intense heat, is not equally complete in the various forts, or even in the walls of the same fort. In some cases the stones are only partially melted and calcined; in others their adjoining edges are fused so that they are firmly cemented together; in many instances pieces of rock are enveloped in a glassy enamel-like coating which binds them into a uniform whole; and at times, though rarely, the entire length of the wall presents one solid mass of vitreous substance.
It is not clear why or how the walls were subjected to vitrification. Some antiquarians have argued that it was done to strengthen the wall, but the heating actually weakens the structure. Battle damage is also unlikely to be the cause, as the walls are thought to have been subjected to carefully maintained fires to ensure they were hot enough for vitrification to take place.
So, we have quite the mystery here, eh? I don't know what these forts could mean to us StolenHistorians but I find a few things interesting. A few lines from The Mystery of the Vitrified Forts by Brian Dunning and Uncovering the Secrets of Scotland’s Vitrified Forts:
- The vitrification is not easy to spot. It doesn't look like glass; it looks like the native white rocks embedded in a sort of darker asphalt.
- And so without a complete explanation for the forts from archaeology, we proceed to step three, evaluation of the fringe conjecture that ancient atomic blasts were used to produce the vitrification. This suggestion is unnecessary. The temperatures required were well within the capabilities of the technology of the day, and have been repeated experimentally. And, of course, the elephant in the room is that atomic weapons were not available 2500 years ago — or, to be precisely scientific, not known to have been available.
- The forts themselves date from mostly between 900 B.C. and 900 A.D.; most are found in Scotland, but there are some examples in France, a few in Ireland, and a handful in Eastern Europe. Made of local stone, the first examination of them showed that their walls, buildings and other ruins were built without mortar. Instead, they had been fused together, the stone melted into a solid, almost glassy surface.
- The surreal, mysterious nature of the vitrified forts have garnered all sorts of rather non-scientific attention themselves. Vitrified forts are one piece of ‘evidence’ often cited by pseudo-historians that claim our planet was once the site of an incredibly advanced, ancient civilization.
- Dunnideer Castle is one of the oldest in Scotland, with the first historical mention coming from the records of John Balliol in 1260. The castle that was mentioned in those records, though, was partially constructed from a much older structure that gives it the title of the oldest in Scotland.
- Much of the awe that goes along with the vitrified forts is the idea that they were built many centuries ago, yet today, modern archaeologists struggle with recreating the techniques and scale on which the melting was done. At the time, though, these processes were cutting-edge technology.
- Bizarrely, excavations haven’t uncovered much of what life was like between the fort’sconstruction and its ultimate destruction. Based on the loose timeline they’ve been able to piece together from layers of evidence, the fort was constructed, vitrified, and only then occupied.
- Like Dunnideer, later construction was built on top of the prehistoric ruins, making it difficult to sort through the overgrown ramparts.