Ancient Monuments

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Southern ring cairn on Coldsmouth Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Kelso and District, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.5471 / 55°32'49"N

Longitude: -2.2281 / 2°13'41"W

OS Eastings: 385702.429632

OS Northings: 628177.259712

OS Grid: NT857281

Mapcode National: GBR D4W9.DB

Mapcode Global: WH9ZD.RT5X

Entry Name: Southern ring cairn on Coldsmouth Hill

Scheduled Date: 19 January 1968

Last Amended: 24 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009530

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24585

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Kelso and District

Traditional County: Northumberland


This monument includes a large Bronze Age burial cairn situated at the south
end of the summit of Coldsmouth Hill. Two concentric rings of stone enclose a
horseshoe shaped arc of stones which surrounded a central burial. The monument
is the southernmost of two ring cairns on the top of the hill. The ground
falls away steeply on all sides, affording extensive views to the north, east
and west.
The outer ring of stones and boulders has a diameter of 16m by 15m, is 4m wide
and up to 0.5m high and partly covered with turf. The inner ring comprises a
single circle of boulders, just under 15m in diameter, with three particularly
large stones in the south west circuit. An inner band of stones, 5m in
diameter and 1m wide, forms a semicircle round the north east side, with the
open side facing to the west. In the centre of the cairn is a pit cut into the
rock to form a burial cist. The pit measures 1.4m by 1.47m and is 0.5m deep.
Excavations carried out in 1929 revealed that the pit had originally contained
the remains of a cremated human body and a flint tool. The excavations also
discovered a second cist 2.5m to the south west which contained dark soil and
charcoal. This cist apparently lies beneath the three large stones in the
south west sector of the middle circle.
Two modern walkers' cairns, up to 2m high, are situated on the cairn on the
north east and south west sides.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of
stones up to 20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may
be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small
uprights or laid boulders. Ring cairns are found mainly in upland areas of
England and are mostly discovered and authenticated by fieldwork and ground
level survey, although a few are large enough to be visible on aerial
photographs. They often occur in pairs or small groups of up to four examples.
Occasionally they lie within round barrow cemeteries. Ring cairns are
interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The exact
nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has
revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and
pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial
rituals. Many areas of upland have not yet been surveyed in detail and the
number of ring cairns in England is not accurately known. However, available
evidence indicates a population of between 250 and 500 examples. As a
relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable variation in form,
all positively identified examples retaining significant archaeological
deposits are considered worthy of preservation.

The southern cairn on Coldsmouth Hill is a well preserved example of a ring
cairn. The stone ring bank and interior circles are virtually intact and,
together with the central cist, clearly show the structure of a ring cairn. It
is one of a series of dispersed burial mounds which occupy prominent positions
in a direct line southwards from Coldsmouth Hill to Maddie's Well. As such, it
will contribute significantly towards a fuller understanding of the funerary
landscape of the Bronze Age.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hewat Craw, J, 'Hist Berwick Natur Club' in , , Vol. 27, (1931), 379-384

Source: Historic England

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