Ancient Monuments

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Thistle cottage, fort 130m east of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale South, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.0523 / 55°3'8"N

Longitude: -3.3829 / 3°22'58"W

OS Eastings: 311749

OS Northings: 573963

OS Grid: NY117739

Mapcode National: GBR 4BT0.DP

Mapcode Global: WH6XZ.08CP

Entry Name: Thistle cottage, fort 130m E of

Scheduled Date: 19 December 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11595

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Dalton

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale South

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the remains of a bivallate enclosure or fort, visible as cropmarks on a series of aerial photographs taken in 1983. The fort is Iron Age, dating to the first millennium BC, and forms part of a wider pattern of later prehistoric defensive and domestic structures. It lies on a wedge-shaped promontory, at 70m above sea level, 130m E of Thistle Cottage.

The fort is defined on aerial photographs by two concentric lines of darker vegetation, indicating the presence of two broad ditches, each about 5m wide, which cut across the broad neck of the promontory. The area enclosed is triangular and measures a maximum of 90m by 80m.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

Now only visible as a cropmark in an arable field, the promontory fort is an excellent example of a bivallate, defended settlement of Iron Age date surviving in an area of agricultural activity. Although the interior has been cultivated, there is potential for archaeologically significant deposits relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the fort to remain in place. In addition, it is possible that deposits survive that could provide data relating to the later prehistoric environment. The monument has considerable potential to enhance understanding of Iron Age domestic, defensive and ritual activity.

Contextual characteristics

Iron Age forts are found widely throughout eastern Dumfries and Galloway, tending to occur on the crests of hills above 250m OD. A few forts are located at lower altitudes further down the valleys, and Dalton earthwork is one of these. In general, forts are situated on rocky knolls or high ground for a variety of potential reasons: defence, availability of building material, visibility within the landscape, or avoiding the usage of land that could otherwise be cultivated. It may be that more were originally located in low-lying areas, but once ploughing and agriculture have removed the ramparts and ditches the interior is very difficult to recognise, unless on aerial photographs. The commanding location of the site suggests that control of the landscape and visibility from within it were important to its builders. Spatial analysis of Iron Age forts and other settlement sites in the region may further our understanding of settlement location, the structure of society, and the Iron Age economy. Information gained from the preservation and study of this site can be used to gain an insight into the wider knowledge of Iron Age forts across Scotland.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular Iron Age society, the design and construction of hillforts and the nature of Iron Age domestic, defensive and ritual practice. Its loss would impede 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 social structure, economy, and building practices.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NY17SW 2.

Aerial photographs:

Colour slide:

SC 1061511 1983 Dalton fort.

SC 1061512 1983 Dalton fort.

Black & white print:

DF/6165 1983 Dalton fort.

DF/6166 1983 Dalton fort.




Truckell A E 1984, ?Some lowland native sites in Western Dumfriesshire and Galloway?. In Miket R and Burgess C eds. 1984, BETWEEN AND BEYOND THE WALLS: ESSAYS ON THE PREHISTORY AND HISTORY OF NORTH BRITAIN IN HONOUR OF GEORGE JOBEY, Edinburgh, 199-205.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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