An archaeological dig is taking place in Knock Hill in Largs this month to hopefully answer some 'burning' questions about Iron Age hillforts in the town.
Hillforts such as The Knock have baffled 19th century antiquarian and sci-fi buffs alike, with such figure as Arthur C. Clarke being completely mystified by their presence on the landscape and the reasons and processes of vitrification.
The Scottish Iron Age Vitrified Hillfort Project, based at the University of York, will conduct archaeological investigation centred on The Knock vitrified Iron Age hill fort, in Largs.
The research will bring together the application of microscopic and multi-element soil analysis techniques to prehistoric Iron Age hill forts.
The investigation will identify the materials and methods used in the vitrification of Iron Age hill forts, while determining the impact such large scale resource use had on the landscape and the human inhabitant.
Carol Lang, of the Department of Archaeology, said: "We have a number of burning questions we wanted answered. Why has vitrification of the hill fort at The Knock occurred?
What are the methods employed in the building and firing of the structure? Has the enclosure been used for the settlement and/or domestic activity?
"The project will run initially over 18 months after an initial survey was undertaken in August 2015 and subsequent archaeological excavation in May 2016.
"Hilltops defended by ditched and banked earthworks, sometimes augmented with masonry walls, are common features of Iron Age Europe, but it remains unknown why the defences of many examples were deliberately vitrified by subjecting them to intense and prolonged heat.
"Although examples exist in mainland Europe, Ireland and England, by far the highest concentration are in Scotland, and indeed until recently these were thought to be an exclusively Scottish phenomenon."
Several other archaeologists and geoarchaeologists from the Department of Archaeology at the University of York and The School of Biological and Environmental Science at the University of Stirling will also participate.
The aim of the excavation is to open up a section across the already eroding south facing ramparts and record the findings, whilst collecting undisturbed soil samples for chemical analysis. 
Carol added: "Although the majority of Scottish vitrified hill forts have been catalogued, there has been little investigation into the methodology employed in the vitrification of the Iron Age hill forts, the resources used, the effects the vitrification process had on the surrounding environment or the interaction required by the local community in amassing the vast amounts of fuel required in the vitrification of such a structure."
You can follow the project on Facebook at