Ancient Monuments

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Hamilton House, fort 275m SSW of

A Scheduled Monument in Mid Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.6964 / 55°41'47"N

Longitude: -2.193 / 2°11'34"W

OS Eastings: 387966

OS Northings: 644791

OS Grid: NT879447

Mapcode National: GBR F24K.0T

Mapcode Global: WH9YV.82YW

Entry Name: Hamilton House, fort 275m SSW of

Scheduled Date: 26 September 2008

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12362

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Coldstream

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Mid Berwickshire

Traditional County: Berwickshire


The monument comprises a small inland promontory fort of later prehistoric or early historic date that survives as buried cropmarked features visible on aerial photographs taken in 1976 and 1984. The monument is preserved in an arable field that is regularly ploughed. The site is a naturally strong defensive position with steep-sided slopes to the east and north with views over the valley of the River Tweed.

The monument is defined by two curvilinear ditches, both of which are likely to have been associated with a rampart. Approximately 10m inside the inner ditch are cropmarks that may represent a palisade trench, or a defensive feature such as a rampart. This may relate to an additional phase of occupation or an additional line of defences. The cropmarks define an area that measures approximately 120m N-S by 90m transversely. Evidence of the innermost ditch may be preserved as a pronounced hollow, some 6m wide, in woodland immediately beyond the SE fenceline.

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 extends up to and 5m beyond the fence on the east, and 3m beyond the fence and drystone dyke on the north. The above ground elements of all post-and-wire fences and stone dykes within the scheduled area are specifically excluded to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

Although the site is currently cultivated, the interior and enclosing ditches may contain archaeological evidence relating to the construction and occupation of the site. The monument offers good potential to further what we know of late prehistoric and/or early historic domestic settlement in this area. The survival of what may be the E terminal of the inner ditch suggests that the wooded strip of ground beyond the fence line could contain undisturbed archaeological deposits.

Contextual characteristics

Promontory forts and settlements, whether located in coastal or inland settings, exploit naturally inaccessible locations such as headlands or cliffs and use earthworks to restrict access on the easier landward approaches. While promontory forts are generally considered a feature of northern Scotland, particularly the Northern and Western Isles, promontory forts can be found across the SE Scottish Borders occupying both inland and coastal settings.

In the SE Scottish Borders, promontory forts that occupy good arable land are more likely to survive as cropmarks, while earthworks are often better preserved at sites located in marginal land. Many of the promontory forts and settlements of the SE Scottish Borders appear to enclose relatively small areas. Without excavation it is not possible to accurately determine dates for these sites, but it is believed most may date to the late prehistoric period, although some may have been reoccupied or even constructed in the early historic period. As a group, relatively few promontory forts in the SE Scottish Borders have been excavated. Artefacts recovered from excavations at the late-medieval stronghold of Fast Castle on the Berwickshire coast suggest that it overlies an Iron-Age promontory fort. The monument to be scheduled offers potential to reveal much about domestic life and the economic base in the later prehistoric communities of the SE Scottish Borders.

Associative characteristics

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd editions of the Ordnance Survey 1:2500 maps note the location of a feature named 'Fairy Well' in woodland to the SE of the monument. The name may reflect an earlier folklore association with the monument.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular late prehistoric or early historic period defensive sites settlement in the SE Scottish Borders. Buried deposits could inform our understanding of the internal layout and development of this site as well as offer us with an insight into wider society at the time, where they came from and the groups they had contacts with. The preservation of what may be the butt end of the inner ditch suggests the area of ground beyond the fenceline may contain undisturbed archaeological deposits relating to the occupation of the site. Spatial analysis of promontory forts and other forms of settlement in this area may enhance our understanding of settlement location and distribution as well as offering us an insight into the structure of society in the late prehistoric/early historic period, and the nature of the economy during this period.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record this site as Milne Graden, Fort, NT84SE 19.


Armit I 2005, CELTIC SCOTLAND, London: Batsford & Historic Scotland.

Craw J H 1921, 'Notes on Berwickshire forts', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 1929, 231-255.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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