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Gallaberry Hill, fort

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.1412 / 55°8'28"N

Longitude: -3.3922 / 3°23'31"W

OS Eastings: 311353

OS Northings: 583872

OS Grid: NY113838

Mapcode National: GBR 48RZ.DT

Mapcode Global: WH6XK.V1VG

Entry Name: Gallaberry Hill, fort

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1937

Last Amended: 19 December 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM655

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: fort (includes hill and promontory fort)

Location: Dryfesdale

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises a large oval fort measuring approximately 160m NW/SE by 90m transversly within three concentric ramparts and ditches. Likely to be of Iron-age date, the fort is situated on the summit of Gallaberry Hill at about 70m above sea level, in a natural defensive position overlooking Dryfe Water and the River Annan.

Preserved as a series of upstanding earthworks and as buried features visible on aerial photographs, the oval fort sits on the summit of a small hill overlooking low-lying ground between the River Annan and Dryfe Water. The fort is defined by up to three concentric ramparts and ditches, and is preserved in mature woodland except for in the east and north-east where the monument survives as buried features in an arable field. In the northern half, the inner rampart is 55m long and stands 2m high by 6m wide inside a ditch 4m wide by 1m deep. The middle rampart is of similar dimensions (50m long), with its ditch about 2m wide and 1m deep. The outer rampart is more slight, measuring 40m in length and standing about 1m high with a less well-defined counterscarp. In the southern half, only two ramparts can be traced. The inner rampart stands 0.5m high and up to 5m wide inside a ditch 2m wide and 0.5m deep. The outer rampart is much more slight and has been denuded by a track running to the south. To the east, in the arable field, the line of the 4m-wide inner ditch and 2m-wide outer ditch are visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs. To the west, a steep natural scarp forms the boundary of the fort and defences may not have been needed. A small road runs across the southern part of the interior in a deep revetted cutting.

The area to be scheduled is oval on plan to include the fort, its ditches, and an area around in which evidence relating to its construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area is bisected by a road running NE/SW across the southern part of the fort. The scheduled area extends up to, but excludes, the road and its cutting. The above-ground elements of the fences and the top 30cm of the track running N-S are specifically excluded from the schedule, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's archaeological significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

Preserved as a substantial earthwork and as a negative (buried) feature visible as a cropmark, the monument is an excellent example of a multi-vallate defended site, likely to be late 1st millennium BC or early 1st millennium AD in date. It survives in an area of mature forest and light agricultural activity. Although the interior is now partly forested and partly arable, buried deposits inside the fort 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. Environmental remains are likely to be preserved beneath the ramparts and also possibly within the ditches, providing evidence of the environment during the Iron Age here. The ditches may also contain deposits and archaeological features relating to the construction and occupation of the site, perhaps indicating its association with possible surrounding field systems. It is possible that the multiple ramparts and ditches may represent several phases of construction, which might explain the lack of features indicating an entrance.

Contextual characteristics

This monument has the ability to contribute towards a better understanding of forts and defended settlements, particularly those sited on low rises and in the floors of valleys. Most forts that are characteristic of the wider distribution of Iron-age sites in eastern Dumfries and Galloway are located on the crests of hills and generally at least 250m above sea level. Forts are often located near to smaller sites such as scooped or enclosed settlements, suggesting either a potential hierarchy if the sites are contemporary, or reflecting a change in social structure and economy and thus preferred settlement location if the sites are sequential. Comparing and contrasting the monument to other nearby forts (as Iron-age forts and defended settlements tend to be constructed in close proximity to each other) can enable an understanding of how such sites are positioned within the landscape, as well as provide enhanced contexts for the understanding of Iron-age economy and structure of society. We can use information from the study of this site to gain a wider knowledge of Iron-age forts across Scotland.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular the study of Iron-age forts located in slightly atypical locations. It forms an intrinsic element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern along Dryfe Water and the River Annan. Domestic remains and artefacts from forts have the potential to tell us about wider prehistoric society, its architecture, the social circumstances of people who lived there and the function of forts. Archaeological deposits preserved beneath the ramparts and within the ditches and interior of the monument may provide information about the nature of the contemporary environment and the use prehistoric farmers made of it. Spatial analysis of similar sites may inform our understanding of patterns of landholding and the expansion of settlements. Its loss would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments (particularly those on the flanks of hills and along the sides of valleys) within the landscape both in eastern Dumfries and Galloway and across Scotland, as well as our knowledge of Iron-age social structure, economy, and building practices.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NY18SW 6.


Jobey G 1971, 'EARLY SETTLEMENTS IN EASTERN DUMFRIESSHIRE', Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc 48, 92.

NSA, 1845, Vol. 4 Dumfries, 453-4.

OSA, 1791-9, Vol. 9, 425-6.



Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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