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Marygold Plantation, forts 845m west and 730m north west of Marygold

A Scheduled Monument in Mid Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.8375 / 55°50'15"N

Longitude: -2.3092 / 2°18'33"W

OS Eastings: 380734

OS Northings: 660519

OS Grid: NT807605

Mapcode National: GBR D09Y.W8

Mapcode Global: WH8WW.HJMR

Entry Name: Marygold Plantation, forts 845m W and 730m NW of Marygold

Scheduled Date: 7 February 1939

Last Amended: 20 February 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM375

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Bunkle and Preston

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Mid Berwickshire

Traditional County: Berwickshire

Description

The monument comprises a pair of forts believed to date to either the late prehistoric or early historic period (late 1st millennium BC or early 1st millennium AD). Both sites survive as substantial earthworks with possible evidence of later development or reoccupation. The E fort lies in an overgrown forestry clearing while the W fort is situated within a forestry plantation. The forts lie at a height of about 220m above sea level. The site was originally scheduled in 1939 but the original scheduling did not adequately protect the full extent of the monument; this rescheduling corrects this.

The E fort is defined by a pair of stony ramparts with a medial ditch. The ramparts survive up 2m in height and are up to 8m thick while the ditch is up to 1.5m wide and 1.2m deep. Adjoining the E side of the fort is a substantial sub-rectangular annexe, possibly a later addition. The annexe is defined by a rampart up to 4m thick and a ditch up to 1m wide and 1.5m deep. The presence of heavy scrub obscures the interior of both the fort and the annexe making the identification of features difficult. The RCAHMS note several circular stone foundations within the fort along with a number of linear earthworks.

Situated approximately 400m to the south-west within a forestry plantation, the W fort is sub-rectangular or trapezoidal on plan, defined by a single rampart and outer ditch creating an internal area of around 80m by 67m. The rampart is up to 5m thick and what may be an entrance is visible on the south-west. An outer bank appears to have been added to the south-west and south-east sides of the fort at a later date. The interior of the fort is obscured by thick forestry, however the RCAHMS note the remains of a smaller enclosure within the fort, situated in the SW corner, and a rectangular platform cut into the natural slope in the NW side of the fort.

The two areas to be scheduled are irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to their construction and use may survive and for their support and protection, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences and stone field walls to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The form and size of these forts suggests that they date to the Iron Age or early historic period. At the E fort the discovery of Iron-Age pottery beneath the roots of a fallen tree in 1950 is not only indicative of the date it was occupied, but also indicates the high archaeological potential of this site. Given their location on a prominent ridge, it is likely that the forts have not been subjected to intensive cultivation, although the W fort appears to have been partly disturbed by quarrying on the E side. As a result, both forts have high archaeological potential for good preservation of deposits relating to the construction, occupation and subsequent abandonment of the sites. Evidence of domestic occupation is likely to comprise buried deposits of round timber or stone huts, other domestic structures and remains of craft and industrial activity such as metal working and production of pottery. The ramparts have the potential to seal ancient ground surfaces that could provide evidence of the environment when the settlement was built and occupied, while the fills of the ditches have potential to preserve archaeological deposits relating to the site's occupation. Evidence such as this can significantly enhance our understanding of the social structures and domestic architecture of the people who built and used these monument as well as the character of late prehistoric or early historic period fortifications.

Contextual characteristics

Both forts offer an insight into the vernacular architecture and everyday lives of people living in forts and enclosed settlements in the later prehistoric/early historic period in SE Scotland. Sited on a prominent ridge both forts command a good all-round view shed, although this is now partly obscured by modern forestry. Later prehistoric/early historic forts are often located nearby to smaller sites such as 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, notably the other forts occupying the same ridge (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 the structure of society.

Immediately to the north-west, north-east and south-west of the E fort there are earthworks and cropmarks of a large rectilinear enclosure that defines an area of at least 8 ha. Formed by a pair of banks with a medial ditch, the enclosure is interpreted as being a field-system associated with the fort, although it may also have served an additional defensive function.

Associative characteristics

The W fort appears on the 1st edition of the Ordnance Survey map, but the E fort is not depicted. Both forts appear on the 2nd edition of the Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map of Berwickshire. The location of whinstone quarries are marked immediately to the east of the W fort. Both forts have been studied by archaeologists since the late 19th century.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular late prehistoric or early historic period forts and enclosed settlements in the SE Scottish Borders. The good condition of this monument, a result of its relative unsuitability to cultivation and inclusion in a forestry plantation, means that it possesses excellent potential to make a significant contribution to our knowledge of fortifications, vernacular architecture, land-use and society in this locality and, by association, the rest of Scotland in the later prehistoric/early historic period. The forts are part of a wider later prehistoric/early historic period landscape that extends west from Reston. Surviving as a mixture of visible earthworks and cropmarks, this landscape of settlements, field systems and enclosures provides a valuable comparison to others across SE Scotland and further afield. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the later prehistoric/early historic landscape and its inhabitants.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records this monument as NT86SW 3.

References:

Christison D 1895, 'THE FORTS OF SELKIRK, THE GALA WATER, THE SOUTHERN SLOPES OF THE LAMMERMOORS, AND THE NORTH OF ROXBURGH', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 29, 167.

Feachem R W 1963, A GUIDE TO PREHISTORIC SCOTLAND, Batsford: London.

Lynn F 1895, 'BUNKLE EDGE FORTS', Hist Berwickshire Natur Club 15, 2, 367-8, 371-2.

RCAHMS 1915, SIXTH REPORT AND INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTY OF BERWICKSHIRE, Edinburgh, HMSO, 7-8, 9, Nos. 18 and 20.

RCAHMS 1980, THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS OF BERWICKSHIRE DISTRICT, BORDERS REGION, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Scotland series No. 10, 26, 38, 54, Nos. 201, 316, 468, Edinburgh, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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