Ancient Monuments

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Potburn, house platforms 1425m north west of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.3729 / 55°22'22"N

Longitude: -3.3095 / 3°18'34"W

OS Eastings: 317108

OS Northings: 609548

OS Grid: NT171095

Mapcode National: GBR 56B9.9S

Mapcode Global: WH6WG.469X

Entry Name: Potburn, house platforms 1425m NW of

Scheduled Date: 14 December 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12619

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: platform settlement

Location: Moffat

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the earthwork remains of three sub-circular platforms that form an unenclosed platform settlement of Bronze-Age or Iron-Age date. Terraced into a SW-facing slope in rough pasture close to Bodesbeck Burn, at around 480m above sea level, these platforms were the stances for timber roundhouses.

The largest platform, located towards the bottom of the slope, measures around 14m E-W by around 12m transversely, with front and rear scarps measuring up to 1.2m and 0.6m respectively. Around 20m to the NE of the first platform is another measuring 9m N-S by 8m transversely. Around 70m to the N of the first platform is the third, which measures 9m N-S by 8.5m transversely. Both of the latter two platforms have poorly defined rear scarps with a front scarp up to 1m in height.

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.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is a domestic settlement of Bronze-Age to Iron-Age date known as an unenclosed platform settlement. It is well preserved with all three platforms visible as earthworks. The platforms were deliberately created by levelling an area into the slope and augmenting the front scarp, and each would have supported a structure, usually a roundhouse. There is no evidence of archaeological excavation at the monument and traces of these structures are expected to survive as below-ground features. These can inform our understanding of the domestic architecture of this period and living arrangements within such structures.

The upstanding elements of the monument also may well preserve beneath them the original land surface upon which the monument was constructed. The monument therefore has an inherent potential to inform our knowledge of the contemporary environment and land-use practices. The good preservation of the monument also indicates that the monument may well contain negative features, such as pits and post holes, likely to contain archaeologically significant deposits/sediments. Such deposits have the capacity to further our knowledge of the inhabitants of the settlement and the society within which they lived. The monument may also have associated artefacts surviving within, which can add to our knowledge of the activities of the inhabitants.

Contextual characteristics

The monument lies in a sheltered position at the bottom of an E-W oriented side valley of the NW-oriented valley of Moffat Dale, around 2.2km to the west. The monument is located close to the watershed between Moffat water and Ettrick Water, which is situated around 1.49 km to the south-east. To the immediate south of the monument is a tributary of Bodesbeck Burn at a point where the burn is forded.

Unenclosed platform settlements were first recognised as a class of monument by the RCAHMS during the survey of Peeblesshire in 1960s. They are more common in southern Scotland and are typically found along river valley sides, generally below 350m above sea level and more usually on S-facing slopes. Large groupings of tens of platforms can occur. Excavations at some settlements have demonstrated that they can originate as early as the late 3rd millennium BC and that the settlement may be occupied with successive structures for several generations. This is a rare monument type in Dumfries and Galloway, where only one other example has been recorded. Study and comparison of this monument with others, both within this area and across Scotland, has the potential to enhance our understanding of their distribution and any social hierarchy involved in their placement in the landscape.

Groups of cairns exist in close proximity to some settlements. In the case of this particular monument cairns are noted 885m and 1040m to the W, 1295m to the ENE, 1030m to the N and 1195m to the NE and 1205m to the SE. In addition, a burnt mound is recorded 1235m to the west and a standing stone 930m to the west-north-west. The nature of any potential relationship between these possible contemporary monument types is unknown and this monument has the inherent capacity to inform further research into this area.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to contribute to an understanding of later prehistoric settlement and economy. Specifically the monument has the capacity to inform us of a particular settlement type, which characterises certain parts of the Bronze-Age and later domestic landscape, and which forms an intrinsic but unusual element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern along Moffat Dale. Domestic remains and artefacts from settlements 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 upstanding remains can provide information about what the contemporary environment looked like, how the farmers who lived there managed it, and how field systems may relate to structures. The monument's importance is increased by its proximity to other monuments of potentially contemporary date and the capacity it therefore has to inform us about the nature of relationships between monuments of different functions. Spatial analysis of monuments may inform our understanding of patterns of landholding and the expansion of settlement. The loss or diminution of the monument would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments in the landscape both in eastern Dumfriesshire and in other parts of Scotland, as well as our knowledge of Bronze-Age and later prehistoric social structure, economy and building practice.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record this monument as Bodesbeck Burn house platforms, NT10NE 8. Dumfries and Galloway SMR lists the monument as MDG9987.


RCAHMS 1967, Peeblesshire: An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments, Edinburgh: HMSO.

RCAHMS 1997. Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, 100, 289, No. 129. Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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