Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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East Reston, enclosure and ring ditch 510m NNE of

A Scheduled Monument in East Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.8489 / 55°50'56"N

Longitude: -2.1543 / 2°9'15"W

OS Eastings: 390438

OS Northings: 661757

OS Grid: NT904617

Mapcode National: GBR F0DT.D5

Mapcode Global: WH9Y2.W7BZ

Entry Name: East Reston, enclosure and ring ditch 510m NNE of

Scheduled Date: 22 July 1975

Last Amended: 31 March 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3684

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: enclosure (domestic or defensive)

Location: Ayton

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: East Berwickshire

Traditional County: Berwickshire


The monument comprises the remains of an enclosed settlement and ring ditch in close proximity, both of probable later prehistoric date and visible as cropmarks, and a depression, within an arable field. The monument is located at between 55-60m above sea-level 70m north-east of the Eye Water. The monument was first scheduled in 1975 and is being rescheduled in order to improve the associated documentation and to amend the scheduled area to mirror more appropriately the available aerial photographic transcriptions.

Cropmarks represent negative archaeological features, the fills of which retain more moisture than the surrounding subsoil, resulting in the enhanced growth of the crops above. The visible traces of the settlement consist of two lengths of a sub-circular ditch enclosing an area of around 70m in diameter. The ditch varies in width between 2m and 11m and has an apparent entrance on the E side, measuring around 15m in width. The SW and NW portions of the circuit of the enclosure ditch are interrupted by field boundaries but the ditch does show on some aerial photographs. A large amorphous feature is visible within the enclosure's interior, itself apparent on the ground in the form of a large depression. A ring ditch with a diameter of around 7m, and associated negative features, is located 20m to the SE of the enclosure. The apparent absence of internal features within the ring ditch interior supports an interpretation of this feature as domestic in character rather than funerary.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in plan, to include the remains described and area around within which evidence relating to its construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Specifically excluded from this scheduling, to allow for its maintenance, are the above-ground elements of a post-and-wire fence crossing the N and W sides of the monument.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument survives well as the cropmarks of negative features within cultivated land and visible in a series of aerial photographs taken between 1976 and 2000. Transcription of these photographs clearly shows a large enclosed area with internal features and a potentially related ring ditch to the south-east. Cropmarks within the interior also indicate the survival of associated features. The clarity of the cropmarks indicates the potential for a high level of survival of archaeological deposits, the remains of structures and also artefact and ecofact assemblages on and around the site. Specifically, the negative features that comprise the cropmarks are likely to preserve archaeologically significant deposits within their fill. These deposits have the potential to enhance our understanding of the construction and use of the settlement and the domestic architecture, lifestyle, social structure, beliefs and economy of the inhabitants. They also have the capacity to inform our understanding of the final phase of use of the monument and its eventual abandonment. Upstanding elements of the settlement may also been constructed over contemporary soils. Where these buried soils survive they have the potential to inform our understanding of the environment in which the monument was constructed and land-use practices employed at that time.

The juxtaposition of the ring ditch and the enclosed settlement is unusual and the monument has the capacity to inform our understanding of the development of the site. The chronological relationship between the two settlement elements may also be determined and potential changes in architectural function and style better understood.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located on a gentle slope on the NE bank of the Eye Water. There are good views in all directions.

The Eye Water valley is noted for a rich concentration of prehistoric sites, many of which are likely to be broadly contemporary with this example. In particular there are a number of ditched and palisaded enclosures within a 1km radius of the monument. While this may partially reflect good survival through sympathetic later land use, this particular monument, when compared and contrasted to such contemporary settlements, has an inherent capacity to greatly enhance our understanding of settlement type and the potential development and patterns of settlement distribution in this region in later prehistory. Comparing and contrasting the monument to contemporary sites both within and beyond the region can also inform an understanding of regional identity, economy and society and has the potential to enhance our knowledge of contact between various contemporary indigenous societies and those from further afield, such as the Romans.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past, in particular later prehistoric domestic architecture and arrangements and developments in settlement construction, pattern and form along the Eye Water. It also has the capacity to inform our knowledge of contemporary society, economy and land use. The good preservation of negative deposits and their associated fills enhances this potential, as much of the artefactual and ecofactual evidence is likely to survive. The loss of the monument will impede our ability to understand the nature of later prehistoric activity, not just in the SE Scottish Borders but across Scotland, as well as the value placed on such monuments by later communities.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as Aytonlaw linear feature, settlement NT96SW 23. The Scottish Borders Council SMR records the monument as 1020016.

Aerial photographs:

RCAHMS (1986) NT96SW 23, 104 Aytonlaw settlement, linear cropmarks, A 29066.

RCAHMS (2000) NT96SW 23, 104 Aytonlaw settlement, linear cropmarks, enclosure D 74587.


Dent J and McDonald R 1997, EARLY SETTLERS IN THE BORDERS, Scottish Borders Council.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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