Ancient Monuments

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Moorburn Cottage, settlement 170m north east of

A Scheduled Monument in East Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.9126 / 55°54'45"N

Longitude: -2.1795 / 2°10'46"W

OS Eastings: 388875

OS Northings: 668852

OS Grid: NT888688

Mapcode National: GBR F062.YB

Mapcode Global: WH9XP.HNC5

Entry Name: Moorburn Cottage, settlement 170m NE of

Scheduled Date: 28 July 1988

Last Amended: 17 February 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM4553

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: settlement

Location: Coldingham

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: East Berwickshire

Traditional County: Berwickshire


The monument comprises the earthwork remains of an enclosed settlement. This type of settlement was built during the later first millennium BC to the early first millennium AD. Within the interior of the monument and at its NE end there is evidence of quarrying activity. The monument is located on a knoll 150m above sea level on a very slight N-facing slope 200m north-east of Westerside Farm. The monument was first scheduled on 28 July 1988 and is being rescheduled after improvements in the available mapping.

The monument survives as a series of well-preserved stony banks, up to around 0.5m high, forming a heart-shaped enclosure in plan, within which are two circular structures. There is an entrance in the SE arc of the site. The extent of the visible remains measures 47m NE-SW by about 50m transversely. 600m to the north is precipitous coastline at Moorburn Beach where the Moor Burn drains into the North Sea and Coldingham Loch lies 300m to the east. The monument itself lies wholly within rough grazing.

An unattributed statement within the RCAHMS record suggests the site is associated with the later Westerside Steading but there are no obvious remains of any later features, apart from the quarry, on the knoll.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed of as followed:

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is a well-preserved example of an enclosed settlement, likely to date to the late first millennium BC or early first millennium AD. Although there has been some quarrying activity, buried deposits within the interior may preserve evidence relating to the social structure and economy of people who built and used this monument. The two circular structures will also preserve evidence of domestic architecture of the period and potentially associated activities. Potential also exists for buried soils beneath the upstanding elements, which are likely to contain evidence relating to the environment in which the monument was constructed.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located upon a knoll with good views in all directions, except to the south, and is part of the extensive and well-preserved prehistoric landscape around St Abb's Head. The monument has the capacity to contribute towards a better understanding of later prehistoric settlement in this area and within a wider context. Research within this region indicates that this type of settlement is constructed after about 500 BC and sometimes succeeds earlier, palisaded enclosures. This monument has the potential to further inform such research. The surrounding area is particularly rich in sites of a similar, and later, date, many of which are in similar sites on knolls and ridges. Comparison with such sites may enhance our understanding of settlement pattern, land allocation and landscape development, as well as Iron-Age economy and the structure of society. Information gathered from the preservation and study of this site can be used to gain an insight into the wider knowledge of Iron-Age enclosed settlement across Scotland and further afield.

Associative characteristics

The knoll is reported to be the site of the Westerside Steading.

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 a type of settlement that characterises the wider Iron-Age domestic landscape. It forms an intrinsic element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern along the Berwickshire coast. The monument and associated artefacts have the potential to tell us about wider prehistoric society, its architecture, the ways in which people lived, their origins and with whom they interacted. Archaeological deposits and buried soils preserved within the monument may provide information about the contemporary environment and land use. Spatial analysis of sites may inform our understanding of patterns of landholding and the development of settlement through time. Its loss would impede our ability to comprehend and appreciate the later prehistoric landscape and society within this area and across Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NT86NE 23. The Scottish Borders Council SMR records the monument as 1060003

Aerial Photographs used:

RCAHMS (2001) Westerside enclosure, quarry; farmstead No. D76663.

RCAHMS (2001) Westerside enclosure, quarry; farmstead No. D76659.


RCAHMS 1915, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Sixth Report and Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the County of Berwick, Revision, Edinburgh, 48, No. 83.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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