Ancient Monuments

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Unenclosed settlement 260m ESE of Gray Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Monifieth and Sidlaw, Angus

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Latitude: 56.4814 / 56°28'53"N

Longitude: -3.0795 / 3°4'46"W

OS Eastings: 333608

OS Northings: 732666

OS Grid: NO336326

Mapcode National: GBR VH.5NLT

Mapcode Global: WH6Q4.NCR4

Entry Name: Unenclosed settlement 260m ESE of Gray Cottage

Scheduled Date: 14 November 1996

Last Amended: 11 October 2021

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6509

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: souterrain, earth-house

Location: Liff and Benvie

County: Angus

Electoral Ward: Monifieth and Sidlaw

Traditional County: Angus


The monument is an unenclosed settlement of probable Iron Age date (700BC – AD500) with four souterrains and at least three round houses, two of which have adjacent yards. These cropmarks appear as dark lines and patches on oblique aerial photographs. The monument is located in an arable field at around 65m OD.

The souterrains vary in size and shape. The northern most is a crescent shaped souterrain 3m wide and 18m long. Beside this is a further souterrain, 3m wide and 9.5m long. Directly to the south there is a third, larger souterrain 44m in length and 3m wide. Below the east-west arc of this souterrain is a fourth, 18m long and a maximum of 2m wide. To the east is a roundhouse with an adjacent yard. To the south are two further roundhouses which lie to the west and east of the largest souterrain's southern end. The eastern of these has a well-defined sub-rectangular yard area measuring 12m east-west. 

The scheduled area is circular, measuring 94m in diameter. 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 or appreciation of the past, as an Iron Age unenclosed settlement with souterrains and roundhouses with yards identified through oblique aerial photography. 

b.  The monument retains structural and physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. Buried features such as round houses, yards and souterrains could provide material for radiocarbon dating and environmental analysis as well as artefacts. Detailed study of the roundhouses, yards and souterrains can tell us about their construction, use, reuse, repair and abandonment.

d.  The monument is a particularly good example of an unenclosed settlement with multiple surviving features. These include three roundhouses, two of which have well defined yards and four souterrains.

e.  The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past. For example, it has the potential to tell us about the lifestyle of the inhabitants and the nature of the local economy such as agriculture and trade. It may also tell us about the nature and duration of local contact with the Roman Empire.

f.  The monument makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the prehistoric landscape by providing evidence of settlement patterns density, distribution and size of individual settlements; land use and the extent of human impact on the local environment over time.

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)

This monument has been recorded as cropmarks on oblique aerial photographs. To the north, west and south modern field drains also appear as crop marks. The monument is an unenclosed prehistoric settlement of roundhouses and souterrains. It survives as buried deposits below the ploughsoil. Roundhouses were prehistoric buildings, thought to be dwellings. They were in use throughout the Bronze Age (c.2400BC-700BC) and Iron Age (c.700BC-AD500).

An excavated example of a roundhouse from Thainstone, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire (Canmore ID 266778) was radiocarbon dated to 30BC-AD260. Archaeological excavation and analysis of the remains showed that the structure had been repaired during its lifetime. Artefacts uncovered from the site included a glass bead; stone tools and fragments of a crucible for working bronze (Murray and Murray 2006, 4, 5, 10-12).  

Souterrains are narrow low roofed underground passages and were likely used for storage. They are mainly stone lined but wooden examples, such as Redcastle, Lunan Bay, Angus (Alexander 2005: Canmore ID 35800) also exist. The majority of souterrains date to the Iron Age and are a key factor in dating unenclosed settlements of this period. The substantial size of the souterrains suggests that the settlement had the capacity to store a large quantity of goods and agricultural surplus.

Souterrains at Ardownie Farm Cottages, Angus (Canmore ID 68212) were radiocarbon dated to between 100BC and AD300. Archaeological excavation and analysis identified the bones of cattle and sheep; plant material such as the grains from oats and barley and pollens associated with an agricultural landscape. Artefacts such as Roman pottery; a Roman skillet handle; fragments of querns and stone tools were also found (Anderson and Rees 2006, 26-28, 31-33, 38, 49, 55).

The roundhouses, yards and souterrains of this monument are likely to contain archaeological deposits from which samples can be gathered for environmental analysis and radiocarbon dating. Artefacts such as iron tools, glass beads and pottery may also survive. Detailed study of the roundhouses and souterrains can tell us about their construction, use, reuse, repair and abandonment. It has the potential to tell us about the wider prehistoric landscape; development of the settlement over time; the lifestyle of the inhabitants; the nature of the local economy, for example agriculture as well as possible trade and contact with the Roman Empire.

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

The monument sits on the Carse of Gowrie with steadily rising ground to the north and a view of the River Tay to the south. To the east is the Liff Burn which flows north-south along the steep sided Gray Den.

Hurley Hawkin, enclosure, broch and souterrain 80m S of (scheduled monument SM140) sits 418m to the west-northwest. The enclosure likely dates to the late Bronze Age while the broch and souterrain date to the Iron Age between 300BC and AD250. This occupation of this monument may have been contemporary with the unenclosed settlement. The broch is located on higher ground and overlooked the unenclosed settlement.

There are other prehistoric settlements in the surrounding area, for example, Unenclosed settlement, 315m E of Dovecot Cottage (scheduled monument SM6508: 1.2km northwest) and close to this a single souterrain, now destroyed, was discovered at Mains of Fowlis (Canmore ID 32002). These settlements would have made use of the rich fertile soil near the River Tay for agriculture. There is the potential to study the unenclosed settlement 260m ESE of Gray Cottage in relation to the wider distribution of sites in the area. This could tell us about the development of prehistoric settlement patterns.    

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 the site's national importance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 71851 (accessed on 26/08/2019).


Alexander, D. 'Redcastle, Lunan Bay, Angus: the excavation of an Iron Age timber lined souterrains and a Pictish barrow cemetery' in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland, Volume 135, 2005. p. 41-118. (accessed on 30/09/2020).

Anderson, S. and Rees, A.R. 'The excavation of a large double-chambered souterrains at Ardownie Farm Cottages, Monifieth, Angus' in Tayside and Fife Archaeological Journal Volume 12. p.14-60 (Perth, 2006).

Murray, H.K. and Murray, J.C. (2006) Thainstone Business Park, Inverurie Aberdeenshire, Scottish Archaeological Internet Report 21. (accessed on 30/09/2020).


HER/SMR Reference

None available.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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