[This is the last in a linked series of articles about Dumbarton Rock. See the end of Link
(the first article in the series) for a list of the reference works that are cited here in abbreviated form.]
Of the two peaks that make up Dumbarton Rock, the western peak, White Tower Crag, is the higher, at 73 metres: NS3974 : Dumbarton Castle: White Tower Crag
At present, the main structures on White Tower Crag are a trig point (NS3974 : Trig point on Dumbarton Rock
), a flagstaff, and the toposcope (or topograph: these indicate directions and distances to various points of interest) that appears in this photo, partly enclosed by the ruined semicircular base of a building. (The foreshore area at Levengrove is visible in the background, behind the pillar.)
Early in the site's history, when the Rock served as the fortress of the Strathclyde Britons, "the western of the two peaks, the White Tower Crag, would have been too pointed for anything other than a look-out post" [HD, p11, 71].
In the medieval period, several buildings were clustered in the level terrace between the two peaks (the Over Bailey – see Link
). However, the western peak was the location of the White Tower, a watch-tower which gave the crag its modern name (the identification as a watch-tower is from [HD, p73]); it was apparently at, or close to, the location of the modern direction indicator shown in this image.
For other views of the White Tower Crag, and the path leading up it, see NS3974 : Dumbarton Castle: White Tower Crag from the Beak
/ NS3974 : Dumbarton Castle: White Tower Crag
/ NS3974 : Dumbarton Castle: path from White Tower Crag
The White Tower is shown in John Slezer's view (c. 1690) of the Rock from the north-west [HD, p74], and is mentioned even earlier, in a 1580 inventory [MacPhail, p132]. However, that tower has been completely destroyed; the ruined semicircular base that is currently visible here is of unknown origin [OSG07, p5].
That circular ruin is depicted separately, and discussed at length, at NS3974 : Dumbarton Castle: remains of a circular structure
. It is shown from the other side in NS3974 : Dumbarton Castle: remains of a circular structure
As for the toposcope, it gives distances and heights of about forty locations that are up to 32 miles away. Its inscription reads:
Height 240.4ft : Lat. 55°56´ : Lon. 4°33´ W
M – Miles. H – Height in Feet.
This Plate presented to
H.M. OFFICE OF WORKS.
Sir Iain Colquhoun Bart., D.S.O. President
PROVOST BILSLAND – DUMBARTON.
(Regarding the Association mentioned here, compare NS4076 : Memorial Fountain
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