Ancient Monuments

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Nutholm Hill, fort 400m ENE of Nutholmhill

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.0769 / 55°4'36"N

Longitude: -3.3587 / 3°21'31"W

OS Eastings: 313349

OS Northings: 576675

OS Grid: NY133766

Mapcode National: GBR 49ZQ.NV

Mapcode Global: WH6XS.CNV9

Entry Name: Nutholm Hill, fort 400m ENE of Nutholmhill

Scheduled Date: 7 February 2008

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11930

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: St Mungo

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises a fort of Iron-Age date, enclosing the summit of Nutholm Hill, located with a commanding position on a ridge line running down to the confluence of the River Annan and the Water of Milk.

Situated at 115m above sea level on the summit of the ridge running N-S that forms Nutholm Hill, the fort measures approximately 100m N-S by 70m transversely. The rampart is best preserved to the north where a 30m-long rock-cut section runs E-W across the ridge, standing 0.4m above the level of the interior and 1.4m above the bottom of the ditch, which is 0.6m deep. To the east, a natural sharp break of slope is used to accentuate the height of the rampart, suggesting the rampart was designed to be less substantial here. Although ploughing and improvement of the land has denuded the rampart and ditch to the west and south, the extent of the fort can still be defined. A more recent flagpole stance is located among the rampart and ditch to the north, and an Ordnance Survey (OS) trig point is situated within the fort on the summit of the hill.

The area to be scheduled is an oval on plan, to include the fort, its bank and ditch, and an area around within which evidence relating to its construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

Visible in part as an earth rampart and rock-cut ditch, in part as an accentuated natural feature, and in part as a denuded earth rampart, the fort is an excellent example of a well-preserved fort of Iron-Age date surviving in an area of agricultural activity. Although the interior has been cultivated, evidence relating to potential domestic structures and economy may be preserved as buried deposits inside the fort. The potential exists for an old ground surface or buried soil to remain preserved beneath the ramparts, and for environmental deposits to be preserved at the base of the rock-cut ditch, which would provide evidence of the Iron-Age environment within which the fort was built. The monument has the potential to further our understanding of Iron-Age farming life, through analysis of the structural features of forts and through the preservation of deposits relating to domestic and agricultural practices.

Contextual characteristics

Iron-Age forts are found widely throughout eastern Dumfriesshire, tending to occur on the crests of hills above 250m above sea level. A few forts are located at lower altitudes further down the valleys, and Nutholm Hill is one of these. In general, forts are often 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, overlooking the confluence of the River Annan and the Water of Milk, suggests that control of the landscape and visibility from within it were important to its builders. The proximity of this site on the summit of the hill to the nearby remains of the enclosed settlement on the flanks of Nutholm Hill suggests either a potential hierarchy (if the sites are contemporary) or reflects a change in social structure and economy and thus preferred settlement location (if the sites are sequential). 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.

Associative characteristics

The monument is named on both the OS 1st and 2nd edition maps as being a fort, an association probably achieved through the preservation of its upstanding earthworks, which suggests that local residents in the past have had an awareness of the significance and value of the site.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it is a well-preserved fort that characterises the wider Iron-Age defended domestic landscape, forming an intrinsic element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern along the River Annan and Water of Milk by commanding the confluence of the rivers. Domestic remains and artefacts from forts have the potential to tell us about wider prehistoric society, its architecture, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contacts with. The old ground surfaces sealed by the ramparts can provide information about what the contemporary environment looked like and how it was being managed by the prehistoric farmers who used the site. Its loss would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape both in this region and across Scotland, as well as our knowledge of Iron-Age social structure, economy and building practices.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NY17NW 7 (a copy of their short report is on file).




Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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