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Mid Hill, settlement 1480m SSE of Cairnknowe

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale East and Eskdale, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.1537 / 55°9'13"N

Longitude: -3.1447 / 3°8'41"W

OS Eastings: 327150

OS Northings: 584977

OS Grid: NY271849

Mapcode National: GBR 68GV.ZB

Mapcode Global: WH6XH.NQQF

Entry Name: Mid Hill, settlement 1480m SSE of Cairnknowe

Scheduled Date: 4 February 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12666

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: settlement

Location: Tundergarth

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale East and Eskdale

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire

Description

The monument comprises the upstanding remains of a defended settlement likely to date to later prehistory (the first millennium BC). It survives as a series of concentric features, the main elements being an earth-and-stone rampart bounded by an outer ditch. The defences enclose three possible house platforms. The site is located in rough pasture on a spur of high ground projecting north-west from Mid Hill, between the Coom Burn and Papert Sike watercourses, at approximately 330m above sea level.

The remains cover a total area of approximately 90m by 80m, the ditch enclosing a smaller oval space. The earth-and-stone rampart is 10m wide and 2.5m high and the enclosing ditch is approximately 7m wide. In the NW quadrant of the defences there is a break suggesting the position of a single entrance.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's 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

This is a well-preserved, upstanding example of a later prehistoric defended settlement that has not been affected by detrimental later land-use such as cultivation. It survives to a marked degree, enclosed by a rampart and external ditch. Surveyors who visited in 1912 noted an intermittent stone parapet 1.5m wide on top of the rampart and a counterscarp bank accompanying the external ditch. Archaeologists have identified the position of up to three houses in the interior. The presence of an external ditch appears to be a relatively rare feature at similar sites in the region.

Archaeological remains relating to the defensive circuit and settlement within the interior are undoubtedly preserved. These remains can help us to understand more about both the defensive structures and the design and construction of individual dwellings. The lack of disturbance here suggests the potential for extensive buried deposits to exist, including both artefacts and ecofacts. These could help us build up a picture of the activities that took place on the site, the physical conditions, and the environment and land cover at the time. The upstanding banks and house footings may contain evidence relating to the creation, use and abandonment of the settlement, helping to inform our understanding of the character of late prehistoric defended settlement, including local variations in domestic architecture and building use. Potential also exists for the survival of buried land surfaces beneath the rampart and other standing features. These could preserve information about the environment before the site was constructed, adding to the time-depth represented by the remains.

Contextual characteristics

Defended settlements were built at various times from at least the end of the late Bronze Age (around 800 BC) until probably the end of the early Middle Ages (around 1000 AD). It is clear that at some sites the first defensive systems began to appear in the Bronze Age. However, the majority of monuments excavated so far have produced evidence for Iron-Age occupation, ranging from the mid- to late 1st millennium BC.

This settlement lies in an elevated position with good views to the west. It is one of a group of similar sites in E Annandale, and at least three other defended settlements of national importance lie within 3.5km to the WNW, W and WSW. The monument has the capacity to contribute towards a better understanding of prehistoric defended settlements in this area, particularly those sited in elevated positions. The construction and layout of defended settlements and associated dwellings, including size, number of entrances, design and placement in the landscape are all important in understanding this type of monument. By comparing this monument to others of its type we can learn more about defended settlements and associated dwellings in eastern Dumfriesshire and more widely across Scotland. The monument also complements the other types of prehistoric settlement sites identified in the vicinity and in Eskdale to the north-east, to provide a fuller picture of the development of prehistoric landscape and society in the region over time.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular the study of defended settlement in later prehistoric SW Scotland. It survives to a marked degree and displays well-preserved field characteristics in its structural evidence. The lack of significant later disturbance indicates the high potential for survival of buried material such as structural remains, artefacts and ecofacts that were either sealed when the monument was built or relate to its use or abandonment. It can help us understand patterns in landholding and the exploitation of natural resources, and underlying reasons for them. It is a characteristic component of the wider modern landscape in the uplands of the south-west and its loss would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the later prehistoric occupation of SW Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the site as NY28SE 7. The Dumfries and Galloway SMR records the site as MDG 7323.

References:

Jobey G 1971, 'Early settlements in eastern Dumfriesshire', Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Soc, 48.

RCAHMS 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, Edinburgh:The Stationery Office.

RCAHMS 1920, Seventh Report with Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the County of Dumfries, Edinburgh: HMSO.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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