Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric enclosure and roundhouses, 150m WNW of West Pilmore Farm Cottages

A Scheduled Monument in Carse of Gowrie, Perth and Kinross

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Latitude: 56.4557 / 56°27'20"N

Longitude: -3.103 / 3°6'10"W

OS Eastings: 332120

OS Northings: 729825

OS Grid: NO321298

Mapcode National: GBR VG.M94J

Mapcode Global: WH6Q4.9ZNW

Entry Name: Prehistoric enclosure and roundhouses, 150m WNW of West Pilmore Farm Cottages

Scheduled Date: 22 November 1996

Last Amended: 14 June 2021

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6524

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: enclosure (domestic or defensive)

Location: Longforgan

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Carse of Gowrie

Traditional County: Perthshire


The monument comprises the remains of a rectilinear enclosure and two roundhouses, and other features, likely to be of Iron Age date (700BC – AD500) represented by cropmarks visible on oblique aerial photographs. The monument lies on level ground in arable farmland at around 30m above sea level.

The rectilinear enclosure has a traceable 35m length of ditch running roughly north-south and about 40m traceable ditch adjoining running roughly east-west. The ditch measures 1-2m in width and represents part of an enclosure around a roundhouse. A small ring-ditch feature some 2-3m in diameter overlaps this enclosure ditch on the north. Ring ditches have been shown on excavation to represent the remains of former timber roundhouses and other smaller structures in use throughout the Bronze Age (c.2400BC-700BC) and Iron Age (c.700BC-AD500). Within the enclosure, to the southeast, is a roundhouse around 12-15m in diameter within a ditch around 1-2m wide. The roundhouse has a well-defined east facing entrance and darker patches in its interior suggesting the remains of former internal structures. To the north of the enclosure is a second roundhouse around 15m in diameter within a ditch 1-2m wide. Approximately half the projected circuit of the roundhouse is visible in aerial photographs, with a break in east for an entrance. This group of features appears to represent part of a later prehistoric settlement complex.

The scheduled area is irregular, extending at least 10 metres from the outer edges of the cropmarks (based on transcription data). It includes the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s) (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17):

a. The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the past as a possible multi-phase site dating from later prehistory, most likely the Iron Age period (700BC – AD500). It adds to our understanding of later prehistoric society in Scotland and the function, use and development of enclosures and other settlement sites. 

b. The monument is visible as cropmarks and we can be confident it retains buried structural and other physical attributes which makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the past. Study of aerial images demonstrates the overall plan of the monument is clear and understandable with features surviving as buried remains. There is also significant potential for the survival of buried archaeological deposits within the monument that are not visible as cropmarks. The monument can significantly add to our understanding of domestic settlement, agriculture and economy during later prehistory.

c. The monument is a rare example of a prehistoric rectilinear enclosure with associated settlement remains. Rectilinear enclosures and enclosed settlements are much less common than sub-circular and sub-oval examples in later prehistory and they are generally date to the Iron Age  (700BC – AD500).

d. The monument is a good example of an enclosure or enclosed settlement from. The rectilinear enclosure is a good, representative example of its type and form. The roundhouses are probably contemporary. It is therefore an important example of this monument type.

e. The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding of the past. It can tell us about the character, development and use of enclosures, and the nature of later prehistoric society, economy and social hierarchy in this area of Scotland and further afield. Further research and investigation of the surviving buried remains have the potential to explain the precise chronology of this site. Such a chronological explanation may help to inform our understanding of the development of similar later prehistoric sites across Scotland.

f. The monument makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the historic landscape by its association with other prehistoric sites in the local area.

Assessment of Cultural Significance

This statement of national importance has been informed by the following assessment of cultural significance:

Intrinsic characteristics (how the remains of a site or place contribute to our knowledge of the past)

The monument is a prehistoric rectilinear enclosure with two roundhouses, a small ring ditch and other features, visible as cropmarks on oblique aerial photographs, on fairly level arable land. It survives as buried remains below the soil with ditches and breaks for entrances identifiable as cropmarks. The overall plan of the monument is clear and understandable on aerial imagery.

The rectilinear enclosure is a good example of a late prehistoric enclosed site, likely to be Iron Age in date ((700BC – AD500), surviving in an area of high agricultural activity. Buried deposits inside the enclosure may preserve evidence relating to potential domestic structures and economy, which may enhance our understanding of the social structures and domestic architecture of the Iron Age people who built and used this monument. A rampart would have been constructed on the internal side the ditch. There is potential for preservation of a buried soil not only beneath possibly buried ramparts but also within the ditches, providing evidence of the environment within which Iron Age people built the site. As has been shown by excavation at similar sites, the ditch and ploughed-out rampart may also contain deposits and archaeological features relating to the construction and occupation of the enclosure.

Although the interior has been ploughed, there are further cropmarks visible within the enclosure. Within the southeast portion of the rectilinear enclosure are the remains of a roundhouse. The roundhouse has a break for an entrance on the east, along with a clear ditch, circular on plan. Such remains are generally understood to be domestic structures and used as dwellings. The roundhouse within the enclosure also has several small circular cropmarks present within. Such internal features are indicative of subdivision of the structure or internal structures related to the use of the roundhouse. On the northern edge of the rectilinear enclosure ditch, there is cropmark evidence for a small ring-ditch enclosure. The feature overlaps the rectilinear enclosure suggesting a phasing of the sites with one post-dating the other or one possibly being constructed to deliberately physically merge with the other.

Outside the rectilinear enclosure, to the north, is a second roundhouse. Of similar dimensions and layout to the other example within the enclosure. The northern roundhouse has an entrance on the east but only around half the circuit is visible as cropmarks and no internal features have been identified. The lack of internal features at this roundhouse may indicate it had a different purpose compared to the other roundhouse. Alternatively, it could be due to differential crop growth producing different cropmarks. This offers great research potential as there is the possibility to study similar structures that had different uses or to increase our knowledge of different roundhouse layouts. Archaeological monuments often contain features that are not visible in aerial photographs and can have well preserved stratified layers of archaeological deposits.

There is excellent potential for the survival of archaeological features and deposits, including occupation and abandonment debris, artefacts and environmental remains such as charcoal or pollen within the monument. It has the potential to add to our understanding of settlement, land-use and environment during the later prehistoric period. It has the potential to provide information about the economy, diet and social status of the occupants, as well as the structure of contemporary society and economy. Study of the monument's form compared with other enclosures and settlement sites could enhance our understanding of the development sequence of this site and of prehistoric enclosures and settlements in general.

To date, there have been no recorded excavations or find spots at the site. Further scientific study of this site would allow us to develop a better understanding of the nature and chronology of the site, including its date of origin, the character of the remains and the overall development sequence. This would also help us to understand the relationship between the two roundhouses, small ring-ditch and the enclosure – if they were contemporary and the order in which they were constructed, occupied, altered, abandoned or possibly even re-occupied.

Contextual characteristics (how a site or place relates to its surroundings and/or to our existing knowledge of the past)

Prehistoric enclosures and settlements are found throughout Scotland. This example is of significance because it is one of the less common examples in Scotland with a rectilinear enclosure and roundhouses.

There are other examples of prehistoric settlements in the vicinity of this monument with the closest being East Bank, unenclosed settlement 150m N of (scheduled monument: SM6534 – 530m west). East Bank consists of an enclosure and roundhouse features similar to West Pilmore. A major difference between the sites is that West Pilmore has a rectilinear enclosure compared to the more common sub-circular at East Bank. These monuments, both visible as cropmarks, have clearly defined house sites and are late prehistoric in date. These sites have a coherence and complexity which positively indicates that they are the remains of prehistoric settlements. 

There is potential to study these sites together to better understand their functions within the local communities, settlement hierarchy and possible chronological development in the area. The monument has the potential to enhance and broaden our understanding of prehistoric society and community as well as social organisation, land division and land use. This monument offers an opportunity and the potential to help inform our understanding of possible interaction and relationship between enclosed prehistoric settlements due to the close proximity of a larger and similar site.

Associative characteristics (how a site or place relates to people, events, and/or historic and social movements)

There are no known associative characteristics that contribute to this site's cultural significance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 31719 (accessed on 02/02/2021).

Perth and Kinross Council HER/SMR Reference MPK5103 (accessed on 02/02/2021).


HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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