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Blue House, fort 260m south west of and pit alignment 345m south of

A Scheduled Monument in East Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.8493 / 55°50'57"N

Longitude: -2.2493 / 2°14'57"W

OS Eastings: 384488

OS Northings: 661818

OS Grid: NT844618

Mapcode National: GBR D0QT.T0

Mapcode Global: WH9Y1.F74P

Entry Name: Blue House, fort 260m SW of and pit alignment 345m S of

Scheduled Date: 6 September 1991

Last Amended: 4 June 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM5099

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Coldingham

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: East Berwickshire

Traditional County: Berwickshire


The monument comprises the remains of a bivallate fort, with associated pit alignments and other linear features, clearly visible as cropmarks on oblique aerial photographs. The site is likely to date to the Iron Age or early historic period (late 1st millennium BC to early 1st millennium AD). The fort is situated in a naturally defensive position on the crest of a small unnamed hill. The monument was first scheduled in 1991, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The sub-circular fort is defined by a pair of concentric ditches, each likely to have been associated with a rampart. The ditches are between 2m and 5m in width and are around 5m to 12m apart. The inner ditch encloses an area of around 135m N-S by around 140m transversely. In the north of the fort's interior an oval feature is likely to represent the remains of a roundhouse.

The main pit alignment runs in an arc roughly parallel to the outer defences of the fort, from the S to the E and at a distance of about 300m and for a total length of 545m, with a break of around 30m towards its W end. A second pit alignment runs away from the first around halfway along its length, for a distance of around 120m E-W. Further linear features are visible at both the E and W ends of the main pit alignment.

The area to be scheduled comprises two sections, one circular centred on the fort and the other irregular on plan around the pit alignment, to include remains described above 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 extends up to but specifically excludes the post-and-wire fences at the NE and SW edges of the scheduled area, and specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences and stone dykes crossing the scheduled area, 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

Preserved as a negative or buried feature and visible in cropmarks, the monument represents an excellent example of a bivallate defended fort and associated linear features, likely to be late 1st millennium BC or early 1st millennium AD in date. Although the interior of this site has been regularly ploughed, there is good potential for the survival of buried deposits relating to potential domestic structures and the economy of the fort's inhabitants, which is enhanced by the evidence for survival of interior features. Evidence such as this may enhance our understanding of the social structures and domestic architecture of the Iron-Age people who built and used this monument. It is likely that a rampart would have lain behind each of the ditches and there is high potential for the preservation of a buried ground surface beneath the ramparts, which may provide evidence of the environment within which Iron-Age people built the fort. The ditches and other negative features are likely to contain deposits and archaeological features relating to the construction and occupation of the site, and its association with the surrounding landscape, where there may have been field systems. It is possible that the multiple ditches may represent more than one phase of construction. The linear features to the S and E of the fort, including the pit alignments, are very unusual for a site of this nature. The line of the pit alignment appears to respect the outer defences of the fort, suggesting it relates to it in some way, and may represent an outer defensive feature of the fort. It may also represent an agricultural field system or similar utilised by the residents of the fort.

Contextual characteristics

The significance of the fort is enhanced by its survival in an area of considerable agricultural activity and its close proximity to another bivallate fort at Warlawbank approximately 1.4km to the WNW. The site offers us the capacity to develop a better understanding of forts and defended settlements, particularly the choice of site in relation to natural features. This example is located on the S-facing slopes of Horseley Hill, with extensive views to the south, west and east. 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. Where excavation has been carried out, the forts in Scottish Borders frequently revealed well-preserved Iron-Age remains. Although many prehistoric sites have been identified, less work has been done in identifying the relationships between such sites through time. Sites such as this provide potential to greatly enhance our knowledge and understanding of the patterns of settlement and the relation of this to the wider landscape and social and economic climate of the time. Comparing and contrasting the monument to other nearby forts and defended settlements 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 gained from the preservation and study of this site to gain an insight into 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 to forts and enclosed settlements of the late 1st millennium BC or early 1st millennium AD. The fort forms an intrinsic element of the Iron-Age or early-historic settlement pattern in the area. Domestic remains and artefacts from forts have the potential to tell us about wider prehistoric society, its architecture, how people lived, where they came from, who they had contacts with, provide us with evidence of native-Roman interaction, and may offer an insight into the function of forts. Archaeological deposits preserved beneath the ploughed-out 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 settlement. The loss of this monument would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape both in the Borders 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 NT 86 SW 14 and NT 86 SW 18.


RCAHMS 1980, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Berwickshire District, Borders Region, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Scotland Series no 10, 23, No. 180. Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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