Ancient Monuments

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Bleachfield, settlement, enclosure, pit alignment 160m and 460m west of

A Scheduled Monument in East Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.8379 / 55°50'16"N

Longitude: -2.133 / 2°7'58"W

OS Eastings: 391766

OS Northings: 660529

OS Grid: NT917605

Mapcode National: GBR F0KY.03

Mapcode Global: WH9Y3.6JJF

Entry Name: Bleachfield, settlement, enclosure, pit alignment 160m and 460m W of

Scheduled Date: 30 March 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12508

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: enclosure (domestic or defensive)

Location: Ayton

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: East Berwickshire

Traditional County: Berwickshire


The monument comprises the remains of an unenclosed settlement, enclosure and pit alignment of probable later prehistoric date, visible as cropmarks in two cultivated fields. The monument is located at around 50m above sea level, on almost level ground within a large meander in the course of the Eye Water.

Cropmarks represent negative archaeological features, which retain different levels of moisture than the surrounding subsoil, resulting in varied growth of the crops above. The visible traces of the unenclosed settlement consist of at least 13 circular or penannular cropmarks, each representing the remains of a round house. These range in diameter from around 4m to 12m in diameter. Further smaller features may represent additional round houses or related features. A pit alignment, consisting of two roughly parallel rows of pits running roughly NW-SE for a distance of around 200m and with the rows set between 7-11m apart, is also visible on the cropmarks in the SW corner of the settlement. A second pit alignment, this time running NE-SW and consisting of a single row of pits around 190m long, crosses the first towards its W end and appears to be aligned with a further large length of pit alignment further N, outside the scheduled area. There are at least five other shorter lengths of pit alignments in the SW corner of the unenclosed settlement, ranging in length from around 20m to 40m, and all roughly parallel with one of the more substantial lengths already mentioned. Just to the W of the modern road is a larger sub-circular feature, apparently truncated on its SE half by the road. It is around 65m in diameter NNE-SSW bounded by a narrow ditch, and also shows evidence of a palisade wall on the inside of the ditch. It has been interpreted as a prehistoric enclosure that may relate to the settlement or another phase of prehistoric use of this landscape.

The area to be scheduled consists of two discrete areas, the westernmost of which is sub-rectangular in plan and extends up to but does not include the post-and-wire fence on the SE edge of the area. The easternmost area is rectangular and extends up to but does not include the post-and-wire fence on the NE edge of the area. The area to be scheduled includes the remains described and an area around within which evidence relating to the construction and use of the site 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

Archaeologists have identified the remains from a series of oblique aerial photographs, the most recent taken in 2000. The negative features that comprise the cropmarks are likely to preserve archaeologically significant deposits within their fill. These deposits have the potential to enhance our understanding of the construction and use the settlement and the lifestyle, social structure, beliefs and economy of the inhabitants. They also have the capacity to inform our understanding of the final phase of use of the monument and its eventual abandonment.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is sited on almost level ground within a wide meander of the Eye Water. The surrounding landscape in which the monument is situated is fairly level, offering good views along the valley and making it unlikely the site was chosen for defensive purposes.

Unenclosed Iron-Age settlements are rare in lowland areas south of the Forth and this example appears to have been of a substantial scale. Its association with a series of pit alignments adds to this interest. Despite this there are a number of broadly contemporary enclosed settlements, also visible as cropmarks, in the immediate vicinity and beyond. This particular stretch of the valley of the Eye Water itself is heavily populated with prehistoric remains, including another unenclosed settlement, several forts and enclosed settlements and some contemporary burial monuments. Such an extensive survival of a prehistoric landscape in an area of agricultural land is extremely rare and has a great potential to improve our knowledge of the prehistoric period in this area and across Scotland. This site is an important part of this landscape and its loss would impede our appreciation of the prehistoric landscape as a whole.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to contribute to our understanding of the past, in particular later prehistoric unenclosed settlement in the lowlands S of the Forth. It has the potential to make a significant contribution to our knowledge of landuse and society in this locality and, by association, the rest of Scotland in the later prehistoric period. The loss of this rare site in this area would affect our future ability to appreciate and understand the later prehistoric landscape and its inhabitants.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the various parts of the site as: NT96SW 43: Victoria Jubilee Bridge, unenclosed settlement, NT96SW 69: Victoria Jubilee Bridge, enclosure and NT96SW 35: Victoria Jubilee Bridge, pit alignment.

The corresponding Scottish Borders Council SMR reference for the site is 1020001: Victoria Jubilee Bridge.

Aerial photographs:

RCAHMS (1984) NT96SW Oblique aerial view Archive number A 22347.

RCAHMS (1986) NT96SW Archive number A 29339.

RCAHMS (1986) NT96SW Archive number A 28262 CN.

RCAHMS (1983) NT96SW Archive number BW 4825.

RCAHMS (1986) NT96SW Archive number A 29400.

RCAHMS (1984) NT96SW Oblique aerial view Archive number A 22347.

RCAHMS (1984) NT96SW Archive number A 22353.


RCAHMS 1980, THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS OF BERWICKSHIRE DISTRICT, BORDERS REGION, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Scotland Series No. 10, 33, No. 269, Edinburgh, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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