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Rink Hill Fort.

The most massive of the dry-stone forts in Selkirkshire stands on a spur of the Rink Hill about 400m north-east of The Rink farmhouse and, like the Torwoodlee Broch, stands within the bounds of an earlier enclosure. It is a strong defensive site with falling ground on the north, east and south and extended viewing up and down the Tweed and into the lower parts of Ettrick and Yarrow.

The fort is almost circular in plan, measuring 65m by 56m and with a wall width of 4.2m. The debris from the wall stands to a height of 1.8m above the level of the interior and from the base of the wall to the bottom of the ditch measures 2.7m. Divining rods suggest that there are both circular and rectangular buildings in the interior of the fort, and there are certainly visible rectangular foundations to the east of the gateway. From the great mass of debris tumbled into the ditch, it must be concluded that the wall was of considerable height. An outer rampart has been made from the spoil excavated from the ditch.

Recorded finds from the fort are Iron Age pottery, a whorl, two bronze brooches (one 1st and one 2nd century).

The whole fort is in a wood and although this has preserved the general structure from predatory dyke-builders, it has made this monument almost unknown to the interested public. With the given situation and strength, there is little doubt that this stronghold would survive into the Early Historic period although there it no definite proof of this as yet.

Philological Note. The derivation of the name has long been taken to be from ‘The Ring’ because the fort is nearly circular. The earliest written record is ‘Langrinck’ at the beginning of the 16th century. My interpretation is that it derives for ‘lann Giric - the settlement of Giric’ who was king of Scots from 878 to 889. Giric is believed to have extended Scots rule into parts of Bernicia which at that period extended into the Scottish Borders. Near Smailholm, the farms of Girnick and Girrick commemorate the name.

NB ‘Lann’ is usually transcribed as ‘church’ but it can also be a settlement.

Rink Ferm (ringk-ferm) n. Rink farm, near the confluence of the Tweed and the Ettrick. It is the site of a pre-historic settlement, sometimes called ‘Rink Camp’.

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