Ancient Monuments

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Carrifran, farmstead 310m south west of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.3893 / 55°23'21"N

Longitude: -3.3301 / 3°19'48"W

OS Eastings: 315841

OS Northings: 611402

OS Grid: NT158114

Mapcode National: GBR 5653.VW

Mapcode Global: WH6W7.TSFT

Entry Name: Carrifran, farmstead 310m SW of

Scheduled Date: 4 February 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12612

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: farmstead

Location: Moffat

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the remains of a farmstead of pre-Improvement date, visible as upstanding earthworks and drystone wall footings. It lies on a natural terrace on the W side of the Moffat Dale, on an ESE-facing slope at a height of between 180m and 190m above sea level. None of the buildings appears on early Ordnance Survey maps, attesting to the early origins of the settlement.

The monument consists of at least seven rectangular platforms, many containing the footings of structures, and is strung out over a distance of around 100m along the slope. The largest of the platforms, at the NNW end of the settlement, measures around 26m from NNE to SSW by 5m transversely, with a front scarp of 1.8m. This may have housed one or two buildings, the footings of which survive as stony turf-clad banks spread up to 2.5m wide and up to 0.3 to 0.4m high. The front scarp of the platform forms the WNW side of a rectangular yard measuring 15.2m NNE to SSW by 5.2m transversely, in the E corner of which is a sunken enclosure measuring around 7.3m by 6.8m internally. This in turn adjoins a further enclosure around 19m across.

Approximately 3m to the SE of the S end of the largest platform is a further platform, set at right angles to the slope, and measuring around 13m E-W by 4m transversely. Set at right angles to this, less than 2m to the E, is a further platform, measuring around 8m by 3.5m transversely. This last structure is overlain by a later drystone, circular sheep stell with associated radiating walls.

The remaining four buildings are all oriented along the slope. The first of these is located around 15m to the SSW and comprises a small structure around 6m by 3m transversely. Approximately 4m to the SSE is a platform measuring around 10m by 3m, and 11m to the SSE is the third platform, measuring 9.5m by 3m transversely. The final building platform of the group is about 17m to the SSW of the last and measures around 8m by 3m.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in plan to include the visible remains of the monument, as well as an area around it in which evidence relating to its 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

Archaeologists identified the monument during field survey in 1991 as a farmstead comprising at least seven buildings, with a possible eighth example. Six of the buildings are relatively small single-cell structures. Also present are associated platforms, as well a yard, situated immediately down-slope of the largest platform, and at least two enclosures. This is likely to be the remains of a farmhouse and ancillary buildings, such as byres and barns. This type of monument usually dates from the 16th to 19th centuries AD. The farmstead is not depicted on early Ordnance Survey maps and is overlain by a later sheep stell, which is depicted, indicating that it was totally ruinous by 1863 and therefore of potentially early date.

The monument has the potential to enhance our knowledge of pre-Improvement farming in a number of ways. Given the area's recent land use as rough pasture it is highly likely that archaeologically significant deposits and sediments relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the structures remain in situ. Upstanding features are likely to overlie contemporary land surfaces and associated ecofacts, which have the capacity to inform our understanding of the environment in which the monument was constructed, and specifically the ways in which people used the land. The monument therefore has an inherent capacity to further our knowledge of pre-Improvement architecture and enhance our understanding of pre-Improvement agricultural settlement and the daily lives of the people who occupied them. Our knowledge of the length of time in which the settlement functioned, its continuity of use, and any changes in function over time and the circumstances in which it was abandoned may also be furthered through investigation of the monument.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located on the lower slopes of the E side of Peat Hill in Moffat Dale, close to where the Carrifran Burn joins Moffat Water. The location is sheltered from the north and east and lies close to the fertile, improved land of the Moffat Water flood plain. There are particularly good views to the north and south along the dale. The monument is a well-preserved and early example of a once numerous form of settlement. Historic agricultural improvement and modern land-use regimes have led to a steady demise of such features and this monument is therefore a significant representative of its class. In addition, the lack of documentation for the site enhances the likelihood that the monument is an early farmstead, with possible 17th-century origins, or potentially even earlier.

Farmsteads were once an integral part of the rural settlement pattern that comprised both large and small townships, known as 'fermtouns' and individual farmsteads such as this. There are a number of other farmsteads and a fermtoun recorded within this section of Moffat Dale and it would appear that, based on this evidence, the immediate area was once densely settled.

Some 80m to the north are the remains of at least four structures and an enclosure; 380m to the north-east is another farmstead, comprising two units, the buildings being ranged with their yards, outbuildings and accompanying enclosures. About 345m and 510m to the west-south-west are further clusters of structures, perhaps as many as seven in total. The extensive remains of the fermtoun at Spoon Burn, which straddles both sides of the valley bottom, are located around 900m to the SSW. On the E bank of the Moffat Water around 585m to the SSE, are the remains of the farmstead at White Wells. In addition, rig and furrow has been recorded around 380m to the SSE. The exact nature of any relationships between these settlements is unclear, although based on map evidence it would appear that the monument in question may predate some of the other settlements, which are mapped on early Ordnance Surveys.

Research has suggested that where such settlements survive as upstanding elements these may once have been peripheral in the settled landscape, with the primary settlement locations lying beneath modern farms. These situations occupy the better quality land and have thus seen a long history of use. This monument has the potential to inform our understanding of social organisation within Moffat Dale as well as the general processes of agricultural improvement and associated socio-economic change. In addition, comparison of the local vernacular architectural features in this area with those on other Scottish historic rural settlement sites may enhance our understanding of regional variation in rural settlement between the Middle Ages and the 19th century.

Associative characteristics

The stell is shown on the Ordnance Survey first edition as 'sheepfold', however the underlying structures and features are not noted or depicted.

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 pre-Improvement period and associated episodes of landscape clearance and reorganisation within Moffat Dale and across Scotland. Its relatively good preservation enhances this potential. The loss of this example would impede any future ability to understand these issues and the history of Dumfries and Galloway in particular.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as Carrifran, farmstead, NT11SE 14. Dumfries and Galloway Council SMR records the site as MDG8683.


Atkinson J A 1995, Medieval or Later Rural Settlement (MOLRS) Study: Recommendations Towards a Policy Statement, GUARD: Glasgow.

Dalland M 2007, Marking out survey: Carrifran Wildwood, Dumfries and Galloway, unpublished Headland Archaeology Ltd report.

Govan S 2003, Medieval or Later Rural Settlement in Scotland: 10 Years On, Edinburgh, Historic Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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