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Loch Hill, fort 745m NNE of Hoghill

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale East and Eskdale, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.1999 / 55°11'59"N

Longitude: -2.982 / 2°58'55"W

OS Eastings: 337589

OS Northings: 589960

OS Grid: NY375899

Mapcode National: GBR 78M9.6S

Mapcode Global: WH7YJ.5K7H

Entry Name: Loch Hill, fort 745m NNE of Hoghill

Scheduled Date: 26 March 1987

Last Amended: 15 March 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM4401

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Ewes

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale East and Eskdale

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire

Description

The monument comprises the upstanding remains of a prehistoric defended settlement or fort, visible as a turf bank, outer ditch and footings of circular timber buildings. It lies east of Ewes Water, a tributary of the River Esk, on the summit of Loch Hill, 255m above sea level. The monument was first scheduled in 1987, but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The fort is oval in plan and its defences consist of an earth and stone rampart which measures 5m thick by 1m in height at the best preserved end of the fort to the north. There is an outer ditch visible to the north and west of the site. The fort also has at least two entrances to the north and south-east and a gap in the rampart to the west may mark a third entrance. The interior measures 87m E-W by 65m N-S and covers 0.44ha. Footings of at least 15 circular timber buildings are visible within the defences. They measure between 7.5m and 12m in diameter and exhibit three different types of construction: ring grooves, ring ditches and low arcs of banks. There is also a shallow internal quarry scoop in the rampart to the north-west.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in plan, to include the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling excludes the above-ground elements of the stone dyke 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

The form and size of the monument suggests it represents the remains of a large-sized defended settlement, probably dating to the 1st millennium BC. It is defended by a single rampart and ditch and has at least two entrances. There may be evidence of a third entrance. The builders used the topography to maximise the rampart's defensiveness and make it seem more formidable. They constructed it by digging a shelf into the natural scarp to create a ditch. The spoil from the ditch is then used to create a slight bank on the slope above. The interior also includes distinct footings of buildings of differing type. The complex architecture of the fort and the presence of a number of different styles of buildings overlying one another is important and may also indicate longevity at the site.

Preservation potential on such sites can often be high, due to their location being unsuitable for more recent agriculture. Sufficient remains and archaeological deposits relating to the defensive circuit and settlement within the interior will certainly be preserved. The construction of the upstanding banks and the house footings also contain evidence relating to the creation, use and abandonment of the settlement and helps inform our understanding about the character of late prehistoric fortifications and potentially local variations in domestic architecture and building use. Potential also exists for the survival of buried land surfaces beneath the rampart and other standing features. These can provide information about the environment when the site was constructed and used.

Contextual characteristics

Forts were built at various times from at least the end of the late Bronze Age (around 800 BC) until probably the end of the early Middle Ages (around. 1000 AD). Previous excavation and research has indicated that the majority of forts date to the Iron Age, ranging from the mid- to late 1st millennium BC. Although, evidence at a number of sites does indicate the first defensive systems begin to appear in the Bronze Age. The complex architecture of the fort, such as the multiple entrances, together with its large size and location in a higher than average altitude, does suggest that this site may be earlier in date. These factors and the numerous overlapping structures of different construction types also makes it relatively rare in eastern Dumfries and Galloway.

The settlement commands good views to the west along the Ewes Water valley and to the east along the Glendivan Burn valley. There are at least five other defended settlements within 1.5km. Forts with multiple defences in this area appear where there is a high density of enclosed sites and the monument occupies a rich prehistoric landscape, with other defended settlements all along the valley sides of the Ewes Water. It has the capacity to contribute towards a better understanding of prehistoric defended settlements in this area, particularly those sited on the flanks of hills and along the sides of valleys, characteristic of the wider distribution of Iron-Age sites in eastern Dumfries and Galloway. Comparing and contrasting the settlement to other nearby examples (as Iron-Age settlements tend to be constructed in close proximity to each other) 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.

The construction of forts and associated dwellings, including size, number of entrances, design and placement in the landscape, are all important in understanding this type of monument. By comparing this monument to others of its type we can learn more about prehistoric forts and associated dwellings in eastern Dumfries and Galloway and more widely throughout Scotland. The monument also complements the other types of prehistoric settlement sites identified close by in Eskdale, to provide a fuller picture of prehistoric landscape and society in the region over time.

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 complex prehistoric forts. It forms an intrinsic element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern along the Ewes Water. A well-preserved monument exhibiting complex and subtle field characteristics, it has the potential to make a significant contribution to our knowledge of fortifications, contemporary architecture, landuse and society in this locality and the rest of Scotland in the later prehistoric period. Domestic remains and artefacts from settlements have the potential to tell us about wider prehistoric society, its architecture, how people lived, where they came from, who they had contacts with and also to provide us with evidence of native-Roman interaction. Archaeological deposits preserved beneath the ramparts and in the 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 sites may inform our understanding of patterns of landholding and the expansion of settlement. The loss of this site in this area would affect our future ability to appreciate and understand the prehistoric landscape and its inhabitants.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the site as NY38NE 9.

References:

RCAHMS 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, Edinburgh: RCAHMS.

Kokeza, N 2008, Later Prehistoric Enclosed Site Evidence of Southern Scotland, BAR Brit Ser 469.

Jobey, G 1971, 'Early settlements in eastern Dumfriesshire', Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc, 48, 48.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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