Ancient Monuments

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Barrow, 55m east of 20 David Herkes Way, Gowkshill

A Scheduled Monument in Midlothian South, Midlothian

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Latitude: 55.8557 / 55°51'20"N

Longitude: -3.0503 / 3°3'1"W

OS Eastings: 334348

OS Northings: 663000

OS Grid: NT343630

Mapcode National: GBR 704Q.DQ

Mapcode Global: WH7VD.32RS

Entry Name: Barrow, 55m E of 20 David Herkes Way, Gowkshill

Scheduled Date: 12 March 1996

Last Amended: 6 June 2022

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6337

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: barrow

Location: Cockpen

County: Midlothian

Electoral Ward: Midlothian South

Traditional County: Midlothian


The monument comprises a barrow, a type of prehistoric burial monument which is visible as cropmarks on oblique aerial photography. This type of monument may date from either the Neolithic (4,100 – 2,500BC) or Bronze Age (2,500BC – 800BC). The monument is located on west facing slopes at around 170m above sea level in an improved agricultural field. 

The barrow is visible on aerial photographs as a circular ring feature approximately 30m in diameter. It is likely to contain the remains of one or more human burials placed in or around the centre of the barrow as well as associated archaeological materials and environmental deposits, sealed in the soil layers below the surface. Similar excavated examples have been dated to the Bronze Age. 

The scheduled area is circular, measuring 65m 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 or has the potential to do so as a prehistoric barrow, likely dating to the Bronze Age which may contain archaeological deposits such as burials. 

b.   The monument retains structural, architectural, decorative or other physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. As buried archaeological features the pit alignment and barrow have the potential to provided material for radiocarbon dating and environmental analysis as well as artefacts. The barrow may also contain human remains, these have the potential to provide information on sex, age, health and other characteristics of those interred within the barrow. Detailed study can tell us about land use; ritual activity; and local environmental conditions during the Bronze Age 

c.   The monument is a rare example of a large barrow in southern Scotland 

d.   The monument is a particularly good example of a large prehistoric round barrow which is a relatively uncommon monument in southern Scotland 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, in particular, it holds the potential to enhance our understanding of prehistoric ritual and funerary practices within Scotland, and there is high potential for archaeological evidence to survive in and around the monument. 

f.   The monument makes a significant contribution to today's landscape and/or our understanding of the historic landscape by the analysis of the distribution and location of other similar large barrows and other ritual and funerary monuments with of a similar age. 

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. The monument comprises a circular enclosure within a ditch up to 4m wide. The internal area shows no features on available aerial imagery but is relatively small; it measures around 24m diameter within the ditch. The lack clear break in the ditch which would indicate an entrance and the relatively small size of the interior suggests that this is a barrow dating to the Neolithic or Bronze Age periods. An alternative interpretation is possible, that of an enclosed settlement of the Iron Age, however, from the available evidence this appears less likely.

There is a high potential for the survival of human remains, associated grave goods and environmental or palaeobotanical remains. Such archaeological deposits can help us to better understand beliefs surrounding death and burial in the Bronze Age, as well as funerary rites and practices, trade and contacts, social organisation and the climate and local vegetation at the time of construction. These deposits can help us understand more about the practice and significance of burial and commemoration of the dead at specific times in prehistory. There is also good potential for the survival of secondary or 'satellite' burials and related archaeological evidence for funerary pyres or other funerary activity in the area surrounding the barrow. Excavation of similar large barrows have also demonstrated a complex construction sequence to create the final structure. Such evidence indicates not only how such a structure was built, but in some cases how it was used as a place of internment. 

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

Barrows are part of a sub-class of more than 600 earthen burial monuments known of across Scotland – some are upstanding field monuments which generally survive on marginal land where there has been little or no agricultural improvement. Others, such as this monument, survive on lower, fertile land such as in improved agricultural land and are generally known through cropmark evidence. There are notable concentrations of barrows across the lowlands, eastern coasts and in the Western and Northern Isles. However, many of the lowland barrow are of a relatively small (less than 10m diameter) size. Locally, there only 6 examples recorded in the Midlothian area: 4 are cropmark sites and two are recorded as documentary references but no longer can be identified. 

Comparable local examples are at Newbattle Abbey which was recorded as being 27m in diameter at its time of removal in the 19th century, (Canmore ID 46546) and at MacMerry, East Lothian (Canmore ID 76073) which measures 35m in diameter. Other, similar larger barrows exist elsewhere in Scotland. These include the excavated example at North Mains, Strathallan, Perth and Kinross the results of which demonstrates the archaeological potential of similar sites (Canmore ID 26005). Other examples of upstanding large barrows include an example near Blairdrummond, (scheduled monument SM6555, Canmore ID 46065) and Court Hill, Loak (scheduled monument SM1524, Canmore ID 27025). 

The barrow is in an improved agricultural field located on the west facing slopes of above the River South Esk. Within the field is another prehistoric monument, an enclosed settlement and associated pit alignments (scheduled monument SM6336). It is unlikely that the two monuments were in use at the same time, but the barrow would have been a prominent feature in the landscape when the settlement was in use. Comparison and study of this monument with other similar monuments may provide important insights into the prehistoric landscape and add to our understanding of 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 53625 (accessed on 07/04/2022).

Local Authority HER/SMR Reference MEL8526 (accessed on 07/04/2022).

Barclay, G J et al (1983_. "Sites of the third millennium BC to the first millennium AD at North Mains, Strathallan, Perthshire in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Vol. 113 pp 122-281: Sites of the 3rd millennium BC to the 1st millennium AD at North Mains, Strathallan, Perthshire | Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland ( Accessed on 07/04/2022.

Cressey, M & Sheridan, A 2003 'The excavation of a Bronze Age cemetery at Seafield West, near Inverness, Highland', in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. 133, pp. 47–84 The excavation of a Bronze Age cemetery at Seafield West, near Inverness, Highland | Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland ( Accessed on 07/04/2022.

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


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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