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Hallmuir, settlement 510m WSW of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.0972 / 55°5'49"N

Longitude: -3.3765 / 3°22'35"W

OS Eastings: 312256

OS Northings: 578946

OS Grid: NY122789

Mapcode National: GBR 49VH.SM

Mapcode Global: WH6XS.34DS

Entry Name: Hallmuir, settlement 510m WSW of

Scheduled Date: 7 February 2008

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11910

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: settlement

Location: Dryfesdale

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire

Description

The monument comprises an Iron-Age defended settlement situated on the end of a gently sloping spur, now covered in woodland, 510m west-south-west of the building at Hallmuir.

The settlement measures approximately 140m NE/SW by 130m transversely within a rampart 1m high and 10m wide, which is in turn surrounded by a ditch 10m wide and 1m deep. An entrance breaches the ditch and rampart to the north, and the ditch and rampart are less well pronounced. No internal features can be seen. The settlement sits on the N flank of a small ridge at about 70m above sea level, adjacent to two similar settlements located on the summit of the ridge and on level ground to the south-east.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular polygon on plan, to include the remains described and an area around in which evidence relating to the settlement's construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area extends up to, but does not include, the fences to the east, north and west of the settlement.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

As an Iron-Age defended settlement in good condition, the monument retains well-defined, although denuded, sections of its perimeter rampart and ditch. The turf covering of the rampart is likely to aid the preservation of structural features within it. Use of the site as a plantation, as marked on mapping from the Ordnance Survey (OS) 2nd edition onwards, means it has not been subjected to the heavy ploughing that characterises the modern landscape. This indicates high potential for preservation of features relating to the construction and use of the fort. Potential exists for a buried soil to be preserved beneath the rampart, and for waterlogged deposits to be preserved within the ditch, which would inform our understanding of the environmental conditions at the time the monument was built.

Contextual characteristics

Iron-Age defended settlements such as this are typically situated on the crests of ridges and spurs above the valley floor. The form of this settlement can be compared with the smaller one on the summit of the ridge to the south, as well as to the settlement of similar size to the south-east. The pairing of a larger site with a smaller site is not unusual. It may suggest that the population of a group of farmers grew so much so that a second larger settlement needed to be built in a slightly less desirable location, with the first settlement being divided into two parts and used for stock keeping. Alternatively it may suggest that the large settlement was the original and population decline lead to the construction of a smaller settlement, which then contracted further with its division by a ditch. The settlement to the south-east is in a different topographical location, on a gentle slope with limited views and being surrounded by higher ground, suggesting either a functional or temporal difference to the two settlements on the ridge. Such settlements may have developed from palisaded earthworks surrounding ring-ditch houses, which, over time and following abandonment and reuse, were rebuilt as more substantial univallate and multivallate enclosures. Spatial analysis of the site's relationship with nearby Iron-Age defended settlement sites in the wider landscape may enhance our understanding of the role of such structures, particularly with regards to society and economy. Comparison of the site with others will enable a better understanding of the construction and form of Iron-Age defended settlements.

Associative characteristics

The position this monument commands in a relatively rich relict landscape of archaeological remains, with good views over fertile land to the north and west, reflects the importance placed on both the situation and natural resources available in this part of the Dumfriesshire. The inclusion of this monument within a plantation by the time of the OS 2nd edition map suggests that it was considered important enough to escape the plough. Its presence has thus shaped the more recent agricultural landscape around it.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it is a good example of a well-preserved Iron-Age defended settlement with rampart and ditch remaining, situated in a strategic location commanding a large area of cultivable land, yet overlooked by another possible contemporary site. The monument has the potential to provide well-preserved archaeological deposits within not just the interior of the settlement but also within the surrounding ditch and beneath the rampart. Potential exists to further our understanding of the relationship between the site and the two others nearby, both in terms of chronology and function. Its loss would impede our future ability to appreciate and understand the Iron-Age landscape and its inhabitants.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the site as NY17NW 2.

References:

RCAHMS 1920, SEVENTH REPORT WITH INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTY OF DUMFRIES, Edinburgh, HMSO, No. 113, 46-7.

RCAHMS 1997, EASTERN DUMFRIESSHIRE: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE, Edinburgh, HMSO, No. 784, 301.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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