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The Bracken, enclosed settlement and droveway 370m WSW of

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

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Latitude: 55.0097 / 55°0'34"N

Longitude: -3.0914 / 3°5'29"W

OS Eastings: 330296

OS Northings: 568888

OS Grid: NY302688

Mapcode National: GBR 6BVH.HZ

Mapcode Global: WH6Y9.HB3W

Entry Name: The Bracken, enclosed settlement and droveway 370m WSW of

Scheduled Date: 19 December 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11994

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: settlement

Location: Gretna

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale East and Eskdale

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises an enclosed settlement and ditched droveway of probable Iron-Age date. It lies in an area of improved pasture to the NW of Gretna Services Area, just below the summit of a low ridge on a gentle SW-facing slope.

The enclosed settlement is oval on plan and known as Warden's Dyke. Its interior measures about 55m NE-SW by about 42m transversely, enclosed by two substantial earth-and-stone banks separated by a wide ditch. The inner bank is best preserved on the north-east, south-east and south-west, where it is about 3m wide and stands about 0.5m above the interior of the enclosure and about 1.5m above the base of the ditch. The outer bank is more substantial, measuring about 3m wide by up to 2m high, and has been enlarged by the creation of a woodland plantation bank along its summit. The ditch that separates the bank varies in width from about 5m up to about 10m. A second, shallow ditch, which may have provided material for the plantation bank, runs around the exterior of the outer bank. The banks and ditches measure up to about 15m in overall width, giving the settlement overall dimensions of about 85m NE-SW by 70m transversely. There are two entrances to the enclosure; one in the east-south-east and one in the west-north-west.

Two parallel cropmarks, visible in oblique aerial photographs, extend from the WNW entrance of the enclosure and run west-north-west for a distance of about 70m. These cropmarks indicate the positions of buried ditches that probably define the course of a ditched droveway or trackway. Archaeological excavation in 1992 of similar ditch features immediately to the east of the enclosure was not able to confirm their date, although it is likely that the droveway was contemporary with the settlement. The excavations also revealed a large number of pits, postholes and other archaeological features dating to the neolithic period and Bronze Age, demonstrating that the site had been a focus for human settlement long before the construction of the Iron-Age enclosure. Further neolithic and Bronze-age deposits are likely to survive within and around the enclosure.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around within which evidence relating to their construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area is bounded on the north-east by a post-and-rail fence, which is excluded from the scheduling.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The enclosure is a well-preserved example of a bi-vallate settlement, likely to date to the late first millennium BC or early first millennium AD, surviving in an area of high agricultural activity. Buried deposits inside the enclosure may preserve evidence relating to the social structure and domestic architecture of the Iron-Age people who built and used this monument. Potential exists for a buried soil to be preserved beneath the banks of the enclosure, while the ditches are likely to contain evidence than can inform us about the environment within which the enclosure and droveway were constructed and used. The relationship between the ditched droveway and the entrance into the enclosure may provide evidence to further our understanding of the physical pattern of local settlement and animal husbandry in the Iron Age. The monument is also likely to contain evidence relating to neolithic and Bronze-Age activity at this location.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is one of a number of Iron-Age defended settlement sites with associated droveways or field systems in eastern Dumfries and Galloway, although the presence of neolithic and Bronze-Age remains suggests that this location was a significant site long before the enclosure was built. It occupies a prominent position within the landscape, with wide views over the surrounding area, particularly to the W and S. Comparing and contrasting the enclosure to other nearby examples can enable an understanding of how Iron-Age farmers positioned such sites within the landscape, as well as provide enhanced contexts to improve our understanding of the Iron-Age economy and structure of society. Later prehistoric droveways are rare in Scotland but there is a concentration of them in eastern Dumfries and Galloway. In eastern Dumfries and Galloway such enclosures may also provide evidence of native-Roman interaction. We can use information gained from the preservation and study of this site to gain an insight into wider neolithic, Bronze-Age and Iron-Age settlement across Scotland.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to further our understanding of a settlement type that characterises part of the wider Iron-Age domestic landscape, forming an intrinsic element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern along the Solway Firth. Archaeological deposits preserved within the banks, ditches and interior of the monument may provide information about the people who built and occupied the site, what the contemporary environment looked like, and how it was being managed. Spatial analysis of this monument and others in the wider area may further our understanding of patterns of landholding during the Iron Age. The monument also has an inherent potential to further our understanding of neolithic and Bronze-Age settlement and economy. Its loss would impede our future ability to appreciate and understand the prehistoric landscape and its inhabitants.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NY36NW 18.

Aerial photographs and transcriptions:

Jones, B 1977-9 DF 2546 PO.

RCAHMS 1991 MS 840/504.


Banks I 1992, WARDEN?S DYKE, Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division.

Banks I 2004, ?The excavation of multi-period remains adjacent to the banked enclosure of Warden's Dyke: Neolithic, Bronze Age and early historic evidence from the M74?, TRANS DUMFRIESSHIRE GALLOWAY NATUR HIST ANTIQ SOC 78, 37, 60.

Mercer R 1997, ?Kirkpatrick Fleming Dumfriesshire. An Anatomy of a Parish in South West Scotland?, DUMFRIESSHIRE GALLOWAY NATUR HIST ANTIQ SOC, 15-16, 36, 42-43, Arch 69.



Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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