Ancient Monuments

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Gillesbie Cottages, moated site 160m NNE of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.2166 / 55°12'59"N

Longitude: -3.3081 / 3°18'29"W

OS Eastings: 316869

OS Northings: 592157

OS Grid: NY168921

Mapcode National: GBR 58B3.LS

Mapcode Global: WH6X7.44YP

Entry Name: Gillesbie Cottages, moated site 160m NNE of

Scheduled Date: 15 March 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM10478

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: homestead moat

Location: Hutton and Corrie

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the earthwork remains of a moated enclosure, interpreted as a moated homestead of late medieval date. The monument, visible as rectilinear earthworks, is located on the SE side of a wide boggy hollow at around 190m above sea level.

The monument is rectilinear in plan, delineated by a wide shallow ditch, up to 6m wide and 0.4m deep, which defines an interior platform measuring 14m NW-SE by 18m transversely. The ditch is best preserved on the east, and on the NE side an outer bank is visible, measuring between 2m and 4m wide and up to 0.5m high. On the SW side of the monument traces of the ditch have been largely removed by later cultivation.

The area to be scheduled is subrectangular in plan, to include the remains described as well as an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction and use may survive, 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 as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is a moated enclosure, the size, form and rectilinear plan of which indicates that it probably dates to the later medieval period and belongs to the category of moated homestead. In its original form the broad ditch would have been water filled and the monument is likely to have functioned primarily as a domestic site, though with some potentially defensive elements. The upstanding nature of the monument's survival is rare for a monument type that is usually found in agricultural land and consequently may have been infilled and/or levelled. Experience with similar excavated sites and their associated documentary sources indicates that the monument may have been in use for several generations.

While the monument has undergone later cultivation that has removed some of the features, there is no evidence for excavation and there is a high probability that both the waterlogged ditch and any negative features surviving in the interior preserve archaeologically significant deposits and sediments. The likelihood of good preservation of organic remains adds to the monument's inherent potential to further our knowledge of the daily lives of the inhabitants. In addition the upstanding elements of the monument may preserve beneath them the original land surface upon which it was constructed. The monument therefore has an inherent capacity to further our knowledge of the environment in which it was constructed, potentially adding to our knowledge of climate and land use practices in the area. The interior of the monument may well retain traces of associated features, relating to domestic structures and these too have a capacity to inform our knowledge of the daily lives of the occupants over several decades, if not centuries.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located at around 190m above sea level in an area of relatively waterlogged ground to the immediate south of a burn feeding into Dryfe Water, around 380m to the ESE.

Moated sites are rarer in Scotland than in the rest of the UK. Around 120 are recorded so far, with particular concentrations in the SW and NE. In eastern Dumfriesshire six moated sites have been positively identified, with the possibility that some rectilinear prehistoric settlements may also fall into this category. The concentration in this area of Scotland may in part reflect the riverine dominated topography which encourages this type of construction as well as later landuse sympathetic to the preservation of upstanding remains. Comparing and contrasting this monument to other known examples in the area has the potential to determine patterns of distribution, duration and phases of use, as well as previous or subsequent functions and consequent changes in form. Such patterns may aid our understanding of large-scale social changes through time and geographical variation in social systems.

Research into moated homesteads has indicated that they can mark local centres of lordship during the period in which Scotland became a feudal society under Norman influence in the 12th and 13th centuries. In the case of this monument, it is around 375m WNW of the site of Gillesbie Tower, a tower house and stronghold of the 16th century. Earthworks at the tower may indicate that there was a structure predating its construction, possibly even moated. The existence of the tower in the vicinity indicates a tradition as a centre of local power, though the exact relationship between the two monuments has not been clearly established. Gillesbie was still noted as a gentleman's seat in 1723. The monument has an inherent capacity to add to our understanding of the role played by moated sites in relation to feudal lordships, both in this area and across Scotland.

Associative characteristics

Cottages, marked as 'Old Gillesbie', are visible on early Ordnance Survey maps on the SE side of the site.

Gillesbie Tower, located to the ESE of the moated homestead, is associated with the Graham family. The tower is first depicted on a map of 1590, but the place name 'Gillesbie' is first encountered in a document dating to 1486 and may indicate that the moated site was in use at this time.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant contribution to the understanding of the past, specifically to inform us of the construction techniques, defences and domestic life of a late medieval moated homestead. The monument may also further our knowledge of the extent and nature of the feudalisation of Scotland, particularly SE Scotland. The loss of the monument, part of a concentration of this monument type in eastern Dumfries and Galloway, would diminish our ability to understand the specific nature of the feudalisation process in this area and the particular role and influence of the Anglo-Norman lordships.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NY19SE 41, Gillesbie Cottages moated site. The Dumfries and Galloway Sites and Monument Record has assigned the number MDG5232 to the monument. Copies of these reports are appended.

The monument is currently situated within improved pasture.


RCAHMS, 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, 208, 311, no. 1271, Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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