Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Raecleugh Head Hill, fort 690m NNW of Raecleugh Head

A Scheduled Monument in Mid Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »
Street or Overhead View
Contributor Photos »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.

Coordinates

Latitude: 55.7743 / 55°46'27"N

Longitude: -2.4104 / 2°24'37"W

OS Eastings: 374351

OS Northings: 653517

OS Grid: NT743535

Mapcode National: GBR C1LN.YX

Mapcode Global: WH8X6.Y4C5

Entry Name: Raecleugh Head Hill, fort 690m NNW of Raecleugh Head

Scheduled Date: 31 March 1927

Last Amended: 31 March 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM378

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Langton

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Mid Berwickshire

Traditional County: Berwickshire

Description

The monument comprises a hillfort dating to later prehistory and likely to be Iron Age in origin. It is visible as three concentric, sub-circular earth and stone banks and two corresponding ditches. The fort is under improved pasture and is located on an isolated spur, at the south edge of the Lammermuirs, west of Duns at approximately 300m above sea level. The monument was last scheduled on 2 March 1961 but the area was inadequate to protect the remains; the present rescheduling rectifies this.

This hillfort covers a roughly circular space 100m in diameter and its defensive works protect an inner space around 66m in diameter. The defensive works include two inner earth and stone banks between which a central ditch survives. Two gaps in the circuit on the E and SE indicate probable entrances. In places the banks and ditch are over 1m high and deep respectively. They are blocked by an outer circular bank and this has been modified in the NE arc by a later, outer earthwork that has enhanced the outer rampart.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around within which evidence relating to their construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of a boundary fence to the S side of the monument, to allow for its maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

This monument represents the well-preserved remains of an enclosed fortified upland settlement that belongs to a group of monuments commonly known as hillforts. Its earth and stone construction is largely intact and with structural details clearly visible. Archaeologists have suggested the surviving remains of the fort are the results of at least three phases of building, each one expanding the outer perimeter of the fort with further apparently defensive works. This suggests a significant development sequence in the fort at various points in its use when the emphasis on its function or symbolism may have shifted to suit the needs of those using it. Oblique aerial photographs show a blanket of later strip cultivation covering the interior and this later use may simply mask underlying settlement features such as the individual house platforms and material remains of the fort's inhabitants. The monument therefore has the potential to reveal valuable information about the sequence of design, construction and reuse of these upland settlement sites. The ditch fills and buried surfaces may well seal dating and other ecofactual evidence and these can help us build up a more accurate picture of the time-frame and wider environment when it was in use.

Contextual characteristics

This is one of a local complex of three similar fortified settlements that overlook the low lying lands to the south of the Lammermuirs. It is part of a Scotland-wide group of Iron-Age hilltop enclosures that appear to have been built with defence specifically in mind. Researchers have suggested that some of these forts (including later examples dating to the early historic period) were built as symbols of status and power in geographically and strategically significant locations. It is clear from their position that the forts at Raecleugh Head could certainly control progress north and southwards through the Lammermuirs and their visibility from the south might indicate a more symbolic, less functional use. Although the relationship of this fort to the other two (less than 300m to the south) is unclear, their proximity indicates just how important this position was to those that built them. Their location marks a very distinctive landscape transition from the uplands to the north to the fertile lands of the Merse to the South. This fort and the cluster it belongs to can tell us much about the extensive presence of Iron-Age communities in SE Scotland and their exploitation of its natural resources. It provides a very interesting contrast to the contemporary, enclosed settlements that survive as cropmarked remains along the water courses of the Merse.

National Importance.

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular later prehistoric/early-historic defended (enclosed) settlement and the control and exploitation of the uplands of SE Scotland. The structural field remains including the defensive works, entrance features and later earth and stonework additions survive to a marked degree and it is likely that significant buried deposits survive within the ditch fills and occupation layers of the interior. It survives as a significant landmark and along with two adjacent sites it marks part of the E-W boundary between the Lammermuirs to the north and the Merse to the south. The loss of this monument would affect our ability to appreciate and understand the prehistoric landscapes (and contemporary occupation) of SE Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the monument as NT75SW 2 and Scottish Borders Council SMR as 1200004.

References:

Christison D 1895, THE FORTS OF SELKIRK, THE GALA WATER, THE SOUTHERN SLOPES OF THE LAMMERMUIRS, AND THE NORTH OF ROXBURGH, Proc Soc Antiq Scot 29, 1895: 151-2.

Craw J H 1921, NOTES ON BERWICKSHIRE FORTS, WITH A DESCRIPTION OF THOSE RECENTLY DISCOVERED, Proc Soc Antiq Scot 55, 1921: 231-55.

RCAHMS 1915, SIXTH REPORT AND INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTY OF BERWICKSHIRE, Edinburgh: HMSO, 104-5, 202.

RCAHMS 1980, THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS OF BERWICKSHIRE DISTRICT, BORDERS REGION, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Scotland Series No 10, 27, No. 207. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Aerial Photographs:

RCAHMS. SC 1004943. 1983. Raecleugh Head Hill.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

AncientMonuments.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact AncientMonuments.uk for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself.

AncientMonuments.uk is a Good Stuff website.