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Hallmuir, settlement 630m south west of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.0945 / 55°5'40"N

Longitude: -3.376 / 3°22'33"W

OS Eastings: 312286

OS Northings: 578647

OS Grid: NY122786

Mapcode National: GBR 49VJ.XL

Mapcode Global: WH6XS.36NV

Entry Name: Hallmuir, settlement 630m SW of

Scheduled Date: 7 February 2008

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11912

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 summit of a short ridge, now covered in woodland, 630m south-west of the building at Hallmuir. The settlement sits on the summit of a small ridge at about 80m above sea level, adjacent to two similar settlements located on the N flank of the ridge and on level ground to the east.

The settlement measures 70m internally NW/SE by 45m transversely, and is defined by two earth and stone ramparts with a ditch between. The inner rampart is a maximum 6m wide and 1m high, with the outer rampart being of similar size. The ditch between the ramparts is approximately 7m wide. A shallow ditch up to 5m wide aligned NE/SW divided the interior into two equal areas, marked on both the 1st and 2nd edition Ordnance Survey (OS) maps, but this has been destroyed by forestry ploughing. Two entranceways are visible, to the north-west and south, giving each internal division separate access. The outer rampart is best preserved to the south-west.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular polygon on plan, to include the remains described, as well as 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, south, 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 ramparts and ditch. The turf covering of the ramparts is likely to aid the preservation of structural features within them. Use of the site as a plantation, as marked on mapping from the OS 2nd edition onwards, means it has not been subjected to the heavy ploughing that characterises the modern landscape. This indicates that there is 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 ramparts, 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. The dividing ditch marked on the 1st and 2nd edition OS maps suggests that the settlement has at some stage been reduced in size; at this stage the second entranceway may have been added and potential exists for this monument to provide chronological evidence for this important structural and functional change.

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 larger one on the flank of the ridge to the north, as well as to the settlement of similar size to the east. The pairing of a larger site with a smaller site is not unusual. It could 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 could 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 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, on the highest point in the immediate locality, reflects the importance placed on both the situation and natural resources available in this part of 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. The name of Castlehill, given to the adjacent ruined farmhouse, suggests that the monument has been recognised as being a special site, a place of deep history, since at least the mid-19th century.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it is a good example of a well-preserved Iron-Age defended settlement with ramparts and ditch remaining, situated in a strategic location commanding a large area of cultivable land. The monument has the potential to provide well-preserved archaeological deposits within both the interior of the...

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the site as NY17NW 3.

References:

RCAHMS 1920, SEVENTH REPORT WITH INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTY OF DUMFRIES, Edinburgh, HMSO, No. 117, 48.

RCAHMS 1997, EASTERN DUMFRIESSHIRE: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE, Edinburgh, HMSO, No. 663, 134, 299.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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