Ancient Monuments

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Souterrains, 162m west of Westwood

A Scheduled Monument in Monifieth and Sidlaw, Angus

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Latitude: 56.5325 / 56°31'56"N

Longitude: -3.0832 / 3°4'59"W

OS Eastings: 333471

OS Northings: 738352

OS Grid: NO334383

Mapcode National: GBR VH.2FR7

Mapcode Global: WH6PY.M20G

Entry Name: Souterrains, 162m W of Westwood

Scheduled Date: 30 September 1996

Last Amended: 1 June 2021

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6467

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Auchterhouse

County: Angus

Electoral Ward: Monifieth and Sidlaw

Traditional County: Angus


The monument comprises the remains of two souterrains of later prehistoric date, visible as cropmarks on oblique aerial photographs. The site is in rolling arable land around 200m above sea level, to the north of the village of Auchterhouse.

The cropmarks, first recorded in 1984, show a pair of prehistoric souterrains. The larger of the two is the northwestern example, which measures up to 26m in length, and consists of a curving linear cropmark with a linear feature, 10m long, attached to the southwestern end, and a small adjacent circular feature on the southeastern side, both of which are possible side chambers. The circular feature may also represent the floor of a prehistoric roundhouse. The northern part of this souterrain appears as dark curves with bright edges showing that they are stone lined and there appears to be two of the capstones still in place. The second souterrain lies around 17m southeast of the first, and consists of another curving cropmark, this time around 20m long. The aerial imagery indicates that this souterrain is entirely stone-lined.

The scheduled area is irregular. 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. The scheduled area extends up to, but does not include, the modern field boundary on its western side.

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, or has the potential to do so, as an example of a group of Iron Age souterrains, which may be associated with a larger prehistoric unenclosed settlement.

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

d. The monument is a good example of a group of stone lined souterrains with associated settlement remains, visible as clearly identifiable cropmarks, and is therefore an important representative of this monument type.

e. The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past. It holds the potential to enhance our understanding of prehistoric settlement practices within Scotland, and there is high potential for archaeological and paleo-environmental evidence to survive in and around the monument. It has also the potential to provide information about the economy, diet and social status of the occupants as well as contemporary economy and society.

f. The monument makes a significant contribution our understanding of the historic landscape by its location and its relationship to other contemporary monuments in the surrounding area. It also has the potential to increase our understanding of settlement hierarchy and changing settlement patterns in the area around Dundee and the Firth of Tay.

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 and survives as buried deposits below the ploughsoil. It comprises a pair of stone lined souterrains and possible round house and was first recorded in 1984. Although no features survive above ground, the different elements of the site and the overall plan of the monument is clear and understandable from the aerial photography. Other cropmarks are visible also on the available aerial photographs; an unenclosed prehistoric settlement (scheduled monument SM6628) is located around 75m southwest of this site and there is a linear cropmark feature to the north of the souterrains of uncertain date and function.

Souterrains are a specific type of wood or stone-lined underground structure used for storage usually dating to the Iron Age. Most souterrains would have been built as part of an Iron Age settlement and are thought to have functioned primarily as storage for food materials. The Iron Age date range for souterrains has been demonstrated by excavations at other examples such as Newmill (Canmore ID 27006) and Shanzie (Canmore ID 183018). The presence of several souterrains in proximity at Knowhead may indicate multiple phases of construction and use, and archaeological evidence from the site may provide valuable information on the development sequence of the site over its lifetime. It is likely that the souterrains were located to, or within a prehistoric settlement and in this case a possible roundhouse is visible to the east of the northern souterrain. This circular feature shows a dark area on the available aerial photographs and is likely to be the remains of a floor area. This site is located 150m northeast of an unenclosed prehistoric settlement (SM6628) and is likely to part of a large settlement complex.

There is good potential for the survival of archaeological features and deposits, including occupation and abandonment debris, artefacts and environmental remains such as pollen within the souterrain. This monument has the potential to add to our understanding of settlement, land-use and environment during later prehistory. It has the potential to provide information about the economy, diet and social status of its users, as well as the structure of contemporary society and economy. Study of the monument's form and construction techniques compared with other souterrains would enhance our understanding of the development sequence of this site and of the souterrains, in particular.

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

Prehistoric souterrains are common across much of Scotland, with concentrations in the islands and the east coast. The pair sit near the top of a low ridgeline in rolling arable farmland, and as a result there are long views in all directions. There are also a number of other scheduled prehistoric archaeological sites in the vicinity, including a second pair of souterrains immediately to the southwest (scheduled monument SM6628). The proximity of the two monuments suggests that they are very likely to have been part of one much larger settlement during the Iron Age.

The monument therefore has the potential to enhance and broaden our understanding of the nature, development and the interrelationships of prehistoric settlement, both in the area around Dundee and more widely. It can add to our knowledge of social status settlement hierarchy and changing settlement patterns, as well as important connections between communities during later prehistory.

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 31899 (accessed on 31/03/2020).

MacSween, A. and Sharp, M. (1989). Prehistoric Scotland. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd.

Coleman and Hunter, R and F. (2002) The excavation of a souterrain at Shanzie Farm, Alyth, Perthshire, Tayside Fife Archaeol J, vol. 8, 2002. Perth.

Watkins, T. (1981b) Excavation of a settlement and souterrain at Newmill, near Bankfoot, Perthshire, Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol. 110, 1978-80.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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