Ancient Monuments

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Enclosed settlement and pit alignment, 65m east of 53/54 The Crescent, Gowkshill

A Scheduled Monument in Midlothian South, Midlothian

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Latitude: 55.8577 / 55°51'27"N

Longitude: -3.0514 / 3°3'5"W

OS Eastings: 334281

OS Northings: 663228

OS Grid: NT342632

Mapcode National: GBR 704Q.50

Mapcode Global: WH7VD.3166

Entry Name: Enclosed settlement and pit alignment, 65m E of 53/54 The Crescent, Gowkshill

Scheduled Date: 12 March 1996

Last Amended: 6 June 2022

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6336

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Cockpen

County: Midlothian

Electoral Ward: Midlothian South

Traditional County: Midlothian


The monument comprises a later prehistoric enclosed settlement and a pit alignment which are visible as cropmarks on oblique aerial photographs. The monument is located at around 165m above sea level on west facing sloping ground in an improved agricultural field.

The monument is a sub-circular enclosure around 65m maximum diameter, defined by a ditch up to 4m wide, with a possible entrance on north side. A pit alignment running east-west for approximately 60m from the western side of the settlement suggests that the monument may form part of a wider prehistoric farming landscape.

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.

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 enclosed prehistoric settlement and associated pit alignment dating to the late Bronze Age to Iron Age. It adds to our understanding of prehistoric society in eastern Scotland and the function, use and development of enclosed settlements and their associated land boundaries at this time.

b.   The monument retains structural and other physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past. The plan of the monument is clear and understandable through the cropmark evidence and there is significant potential for the survival of buried archaeological deposits. The monument can significantly add to our understanding of domestic settlement, agriculture and economy during the Iron Age.  

d.   The monument is a good example of an enclosed prehistoric settlement dating to the Bronze Age or Iron Age with internal structures and associated field boundaries in the form of a pit alignment. It is therefore an important representative sample of this monument type.

e.   The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding of the past. Its enclosure ditches, internal features and pits could provide material for carbon dating which when compared with similar monuments could contribute to a better understanding of the chronological development of settlement during this period of Scottish prehistory. Additionally, artefactual and environmental material surviving within these buried features, particularly the ditches and pits, could also provide information on diet, society, agricultural practice and local ecology.

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 visible as an enclosed settlement visible on aerial photography, within which is an area of darker soil which is likely to represent the remains of domestic structures or occupation. The settlement is enclosed by a ditch up to 4m in width. To the west of the settlement is a pit alignment, which is formed by a row of pits which extends in a roughly east-west direction for around 60m. It is likely that the pit alignment formed a land boundary associated with the settlement. Enclosed settlements are common across Scotland and come in a variety of forms. Some are very large and are enclosed by multiple ditches and may have held many timber roundhouses and housed a large population. Others are much smaller and were only large enough to accommodate a single round house and yard. The vast majority of these would have been agricultural settlements.

Pit alignments are known to date from the Mesolithic (c.8500BC-3800BC) through to the Iron Age (c.700BC-AD500) and are likely to have had several functions. They are thought to have been remains of quarrying; land boundaries; post holes for timber structures or part of ritual activity. Excavations of pit alignments elsewhere has shown that these monuments may have been created over an extended period of time. For example, the alignment at Warren Field, Crathes, Aberdeenshire has pits was shown to have pits from across this date range (Canmore ID 36671: Murray and Murray: 2009). Some pits have been found to contain pottery, stone tools or other items which appear to have been placed within them.

There is good potential for the survival of buried archaeological features and deposits, including occupation and abandonment debris, artefacts and environmental remains within the monument. Excavations at Whittinghame Tower, enclosure 250m SW of (scheduled monument SM6067: Haselgrove 2009) and Brixwold (Dalhousie Mains (Canmore ID; 53609: Crone and O'Sullivan 1997) have provided evidence of crops such as hulled barley, oats and emmer wheat and artefacts such as a copper and blue glass items, stone tools, decorated stones, saddle querns and pottery. This monument has the potential to add to our understanding of settlement, land-use and environment, diet, and social status of the occupants, as well as the structure of contemporary society and economy. Scientific study of this site would allow us to confirm the date range of the monument any possible development sequence through radiocarbon dating.

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

Enclosed settlements are found throughout Scotland, both as earthwork monuments and cropmarked sites. This monument is a good example of an enclosed settlement with associated land boundary. The monument is located on west facing slopes and forms part of a wider archaeological landscape of settlement and agricultural remains of broadly similar date that are located above the valley of the South Esk.

The settlement may be related to other later prehistoric settlements in the area, such as Lawfield Wood, fort (scheduled monument SM6338) and Camp Wood, fort (scheduled monument SM1164). 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.

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 monument's national importance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 53632 (accessed on 2/03/2022).

Local Authority HER/SMR Reference MEL8533 (accessed on 22/03/2022).

Haselgrove C (2009). The Traprain Law Environs Project; Fieldwork and Excavations 2000-2004. Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Lelong, O and McGregor, (2007). The Lands of Ancient Lothian, Interpreting the Archaeology of the A1 (Society of Antiquaries of Scotland).

Murray, H.K. and Murray, J. C. (2009). A Tale of the Unknown Unknowns: A Mesolithic Pit Alignment and a Neolithic Timber Hall at Warren Field, Crathes, Aberdeenshire. (Oxford, Oxbow Books).

ScARF 2012 Downes J. (ed.) Bronze Age. Scottish Archaeological Research Framework: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Available online at (accessed on (23/03/2022).

ScARF 2012 Hunter, F. and Carruthers, M. (eds) Iron Age. Scottish Archaeological Research Framework: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Available online at (accessed on 23/03/2022).

Wilson, D.R. (2000). Air Photo Interpretation for Archaeologists. Tempus, Stroud.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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