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Plewlands, scooped settlement and farmstead 485m south west of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.2667 / 55°16'0"N

Longitude: -3.4711 / 3°28'16"W

OS Eastings: 306616

OS Northings: 597935

OS Grid: NY066979

Mapcode National: GBR 476J.9V

Mapcode Global: WH5VM.NW8C

Entry Name: Plewlands, scooped settlement and farmstead 485m SW of

Scheduled Date: 15 March 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM10547

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: scooped settlement; Secular: farmstead

Location: Kirkpatrick-Juxta

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the earthwork remains of a scooped settlement dating from the late first millennium BC or early centuries AD, the S half of which is overlain by a later farmstead of probable post-medieval date visible as earthwork and stone wall footings. The monument is located between 220m and 230m above sea level, on the SE-facing slope, close to the top of Plewlands Hill.

The scooped settlement is roughly square on plan and measures around 50m E-W by up to 50m transversely within a stony bank, best preserved on the E (downslope) side where it measures up to 0.7m in height and is 4.5m wide. A scarp that has been excavated into the slope to a depth of 2m defines the W side of the interior. The enclosure is subdivided from E-W by a stony bank, which measures 2.2m wide. A later farmstead overlies the S half but it is likely that the original entrance was located in the S. The farmstead is comprised of rectangular stone and earth-banked footings of at least three buildings. In the SW corner, one building measuring 7.8m E-W by 5.4m transversely forms the N side of a small yard, the W side of which may be formed by another measuring 8.4m N-S by 5m. The third building is more substantial and measures 12.6m E-W by 7.3m. This is located on the E end of the stony bank that divides the scooped enclosure.

The area to be scheduled is polygonal on plan, to include the visible remains of the monument as well as an area around it within which evidence relating to its construction, use and abandonment 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 form of the large enclosure and the fact that it is levelled into the slope indicates that it is a scooped settlement dating to the Iron Age. These may have two interior levels and, as is demonstrated here, a dividing feature. The upper level is usually where evidence relating to domestic structures is found while the lower level may have functioned as a yard or court. The later phase of occupations has masked the S half of the scooped settlement and it is likely that the original entrance was located at this end. There is no visible surface evidence for buildings or structures relating to the first phases of the site's use within the enclosure. The overlying rectilinear features are typical of the yards and building platforms of a medieval or later farmstead and the juxtaposition of these two monument types occurs on several examples.

The monument survives well as upstanding elements and, despite the two distinct phases of occupation, it is likely that evidence relating to the earlier use will survive in the northern half and beneath the upstanding elements of the original monument and the later farmstead. There is no evidence to suggest that the monument has been excavated. The enclosing wall and other upstanding features are likely to preserve traces of the land surface and soils upon which the monument was created. These have the capacity to inform our knowledge of the environment within which the monument was constructed and can further our understanding of how the environment was used and altered through time.

It is highly probable that the ditches and other surviving negative features of both phases will contain archaeologically significant deposits and sediments, as well as artefact and ecofact assemblages. Organic elements are especially likely to survive in the waterlogged, lower lying areas of the interior. Similar monuments, when excavated, have shown good survival of stratified deposits relating to occupation. The monument therefore has an inherent capacity to further our understanding of the activities undertaken within and around the settlement and inform our knowledge of the people who inhabited it, their social structure and identity, domestic architecture and living arrangements. The monument also has an inherent potential to inform our understanding of the duration of occupation, whether there were different and distinct phases of use and the circumstances within which the monument may have functioned and been finally abandoned.

Artefact assemblages in particular have the capacity to further our understanding of the nature of contact with other groups of people from within the region or from further afield, such as the arrival of the Romans during the site's use as a scooped settlement.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located in an elevated position on the SE flank of Plewlands Hill, part of an area of high ground forming the W side of the valley of the Kinnel Water, located 595m to the east. There are extensive views to the east and the monument is overlooked from the south-west by Park Hill.

Around 180 scooped settlements are known throughout eastern Dumfries and Galloway. The majority enclose an area of under 0.15ha, with only 60 enclosing an area larger than 0.22ha. Plewlands is one of the larger examples, enclosing an area around 0.2ha. Sheltered slopes are favoured with defence apparently not a primary consideration. Evidence from excavated examples has indicated that scooped settlements date from the end of the 1st millennium BC through to the beginning of the 1st millennium AD.

Scooped settlements are often located close to larger defended sites. In the case of Plewlands it is situated 640m NE of the scheduled fort on Park Hill. However, it is unclear if such sites are contemporary and the nature of potential relationships are as yet poorly understood. Further analysis of this monument and comparison with others may prove contemporaneity and evidence a system of settlement hierarchy. Spatial analysis of scooped settlements and other settlement types in the region may further our understanding of settlement location, the structure of society, and economy. We can use information gained from preservation and study of this site to gain wider knowledge of Iron-Age enclosed settlement across Scotland.

The later farmstead is one of two identified in the old parish of Drumgree, a paucity explained by the reuse of favoured locations, which results in evidence for earlier use being obscured at many modern farms and settlement. Many of these farms exist as names mentioned in earlier charters and still found in place names in use today. Later agricultural improvements may also account for the lack of earthworks relating to this period and settlement type in the area. The farmstead at Plewlands has not been reconciled to any documentary references to settlements in the area. The relationship of the farmstead to the scooped settlement is not currently understood but it fits into an established pattern of coincidence of these two monument types in the area. Further analysis of this monument and comparison with other examples has the potential to inform our understanding of the nature of the relationship and the reasons for the reuse of the location several hundred years apart.

Associative characteristics

Early Ordnance Survey maps do not specficially note either element, though an area of trees records the outline of the monument on the 1st edition, different vegetation on the 2nd edition. The name of Park Hill, to the south-west, and Parks Farm, to the east, may suggest the presence of an undocumented medieval park in the area, though no earthworks relating to this have been identified. The monument is located within the former parish of Drumgree, likely to be the same boundary as the earlier estate. The lands were granted to Kelso Abbey by Walter de Carnato in the late 12th century and were held until the Reformation. In 1605 the estate was recorded with a number of individual names places, including two 'Plewlands', which implies an area in pastoral use.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to inform us of two site types, the first characterising the wider Iron-Age domestic landscape and the second the rural landscape of the post-medieval, pre-Improvement period. The monument forms an intrinsic element of the later prehistoric and post-medieval settlement pattern along the Kinnel Water river valley. Domestic remains and artefacts from settlements have the potential to tell us about wider society, its architecture, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contacts with. In this area in particular, analysis of scooped settlements and associated cultural material may provide evidence of native-Roman interaction. The old ground surfaces sealed by the perimeter banks and other upstanding remains may provide information about the nature of the contemporary environment and the use prehistoric farmers made of it. Spatial analysis of sites may inform our understanding of patterns of landholding and the expansion of settlement. Its loss or diminution would impede significantly our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape both in eastern Dumfries and Galloway and across Scotland as well as our knowledge of Iron-Age and post-medieval social structure, economy, and building practices.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument collectively as Plewlands Hill, farmstead, scooped settlement, NY09NE 25.00 and individually as Plewlands Hill, farmstead, NY09NE 25.02 and Plewlands Hill, scooped settlement, NY09NE 25.01. The Dumfries and Galloway sites and monuments record lists the monument as MDG6742. Copies of these reports are appended.

Aerial photographs used:

RCAHMS (1986) NY09NE 25 Plewlands Hill settlement: scooped; farmstead A28138

RCAHMS (1986) NY09NE 25 Plewlands Hill settlement: scooped; farmstead A28139


RCAHMS, 1980 b, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Berwickshire District, Borders Region, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Scotland Series Nos. 766, 1429, pp 66-8, 7,1 Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

RCAHMS 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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