Ancient Monuments

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Lumsdaine, settlement 1405m north of

A Scheduled Monument in East Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.9265 / 55°55'35"N

Longitude: -2.2068 / 2°12'24"W

OS Eastings: 387176

OS Northings: 670394

OS Grid: NT871703

Mapcode National: GBR NFX1.MQD

Mapcode Global: WH9XP.29FK

Entry Name: Lumsdaine, settlement 1405m N of

Scheduled Date: 4 March 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12357

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: settlement

Location: Coldingham

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: East Berwickshire

Traditional County: Berwickshire


The monument comprises a small, enclosed settlement believed to date to either the late prehistoric or early historic period (late 1st millennium BC or early 1st millennium AD). The site, visible as a series of substantial earthworks, occupies a rocky coastal promontory at a height of approximately 120m.

The site exploits the naturally difficult terrain of the coastal promontory that is steep-sided and craggy on the east. The landward W approaches to the promontory are fortified by a pair of crescent-shaped ramparts with a medial ditch. Both ramparts are up to 2.5m at their widest point and are around 2m apart. The outer rampart forms an arc between two sheer-sided inlets on either side of the promontory and is approximately 32m in length, while the inner rampart is considerably shorter and is only 15m long. The defences define a triangular-shaped internal area that measures approximately 30m E-W and 30m N-S. A possible entrance may lie on the south where a narrow path into the interior is flanked by the butt end of the outer rampart and the cliff. No interior features are readily visible. The ramparts, ditch and interior are overgrown with rough grass.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to their construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of the stob-and-wire fence that lies on the S edge of the scheduled area 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

The form and size of the monument suggests the remains of a small promontory settlement or fort, possibly dating to the Iron Age or early historic period. From its vantage point, the site possesses commanding seaward views to the east as well as along the coastal strip to the north and south. Although the ramparts are spread, they remain impressive and sufficient remains to accurately define the course of the defences. Given the difficulty of the terrain and relative inaccessibility of the site, it is highly likely that the monument has not been subjected to intensive cultivation and therefore archaeological deposits relating to the defensive circuit and settlement within the interior are likely to be well-preserved. Evidence of domestic occupation is likely to comprise buried deposits of round timber or stone huts, other domestic buildings and remains of craft and industrial activity. Such evidence has the potential to enhance our understanding of the social structures and domestic architecture of the people who built and used this monument as well as the character of late-prehistoric or early-historic period fortifications. The significance of this monument is further enhanced as cultivation and quarrying in the 18th and 19th centuries has damaged or destroyed similar sites in the area.

Contextual characteristics

This monument offers us an insight into the vernacular architecture and everyday lives of people living in enclosed settlements or small forts in the later prehistoric/early historic period in SE Scotland. The site also provides an example of the types of defences used in such settlements and the ways in which these may have evolved over time. Comparison to other enclosed settlements in the area around St Abb's and to the many others surviving as cropmarks across the SE Borders may help create a broader appreciation of regional identity and society, and the degree of local variation within the region.

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 fortified settlements in the SE Scottish Borders. The good condition of this monument, a result of a relatively inaccessible situation unsuitable to cultivation, means that it has excellent potential to make a significant contribution to our knowledge of fortifications, vernacular architecture, landuse and society in this locality and, by association, the rest of Scotland in the later prehistoric/early historic period. The site is one of several well-preserved enclosed settlements and small forts set within a wider prehistoric landscape that extends along the coast to the north-west of St Abb's Head. Surviving as visible earthworks, these monuments provide an important comparison for sites found within the cultivated lowland zone of the SE Border. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the prehistoric/early-historic landscape and its inhabitants.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record this site as NT87SE2, the Scottish Borders SMR as 1060020.


Carter S 1997, 'St Abb's Head (Coldingham parish) survey', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT, 66.

Kinghorn R 1935, 'Unrecorded Berwickshire antiquities...', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 69, 165.

RCAHMS 1980, THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS OF BERWICKSHIRE DISTRICT, BORDERS REGION, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Scotland series No. 10, 28, No. 218, Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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