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Roundstonefoot House, burnt mound 565m NNE of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.3679 / 55°22'4"N

Longitude: -3.3548 / 3°21'17"W

OS Eastings: 314226

OS Northings: 609044

OS Grid: NT142090

Mapcode National: GBR 560C.HL

Mapcode Global: WH6WF.FBPR

Entry Name: Roundstonefoot House, burnt mound 565m NNE of

Scheduled Date: 4 February 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12711

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: burnt mound

Location: Moffat

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of two burnt mounds, visible as overlapping, earthen, grass-covered mounds, likely to date to the later prehistoric period. It is located at around 150m above sea level on the W side of the Moffat Water valley between two tributaries of the river.

Both mounds are crescentic on plan with their open sides facing south-west onto a stream. Composed of a mixture of reddened stone, soil and charcoal, the largest mound measures 12.5m NW-SE by 10.5m transversely and up to 1m high, and partially overlies the N side of a smaller mound to the south, which measures around 7.5m from NW-SE by up to around 7m transversely.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in 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. The NE boundary of the scheduled area is defined by the W side of the stream to the east.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

Burnt mounds are heaps of fire-cracked stone within a matrix of dark soil and or charcoal and ash, and often set beside a stream. A trough or pit may be set into the inner curve of the crescent, facing the watercourse, and excavation of some examples has shown that clay, wood or stone may line the trough. Most examples date to the Bronze Age but others have been dated to between the late Neolithic through to early historic period. The exact function of these monuments is not clear and they may relate to a number of different processes. The favoured interpretation in Scotland is that they were domestic in origin and probably used to heat stones to boil water, probably for cooking.

The monument survives as an upstanding earthwork, in which the classic form of two overlapping burnt mounds is clearly visible, marking this monument as well preserved and unusual in its evidence for different phases of use. There is no evidence that the site has been excavated and it is very likely that the mound has not been disturbed. The monument therefore has an inherent capacity to inform our understanding of the date and nature of construction of burnt mounds as well as to understand how they may have functioned, the duration and possible phases of use. The potential presence of associated artefacts within and around the mounds reinforces this potential. The mound may have been directly deposited onto the land's surface and may therefore preserve important environmental information beneath and within them. This may have the potential to further our knowledge of the contemporary landscape and land-use practices at the time.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located between two unnamed burns at a height of around 150m above sea level near the foot of the E side of the Moffat Water river valley, into which the two burns feed. The location is a typical one for burnt mounds, which tend to cluster along river valleys and coastlines in close proximity to watercourses, and between 100-300m above sea level. There are around 1900 recorded examples within Scotland with notable concentrations in some areas, including Dumfries and Galloway . However, these concentrations largely correlate with areas that have been surveyed so may not reflect true groupings. The concentration in eastern Dumfries and Galloway may also reflect good survival due to the locations chosen. These are often rural and on the edges of water courses and are unlikely to be disturbed by construction.

In this case there are a cluster of burnt mounds at this location with three more located within around 65m of the monument. Further study of these monuments may increase our understanding of the nature of any relationships between them and establish if they were in use at the same time or sequentially. Around 140m to the WSW are the remains of a scooped settlement at Jennet's Knowe. The wide range of dates that may apply to burnt mounds means that further study of these geographically associated sites can further our understanding of the nature of any relationship between them and potentially improve our knowledge of the way in which contemporary society used different parts of the landscape.

Study has also identified a trend in the average size of mounds; smaller mounds are located in the south and larger mounds further north in mainland Scotland, and the Northern and Western Isles. In eastern Dumfries and Galloway the size of mounds tends to vary between 2m to 12.5m in diameter; up to 1.2m in height and the majority have a diameter between 4-10m. Two distinct groups have also been identified in the area: smaller mounds often appear in concentrated groups and may have had a single or limited use. Larger examples tend to have the classic kidney shape and may have been reused on many occasions over a significant period. These two types may have served different social functions.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular prehistoric society and the construction and use of such monuments, and their placing in the landscape around Moffat Water and further afield. The good preservation and survival of marked field characteristics enhance this potential. Also marking this monument out as particularly important is the evidence for more than phase of use, a rare survival. The monument has the potential to overlie and also contain important environmental, artefactual and structural evidence of its date, duration of use and function. The loss of this monument would significantly impede our ability to understand the nature of later prehistoric ritual and domestic practice, both in eastern Dumfries and Galloway and in Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as Jennet's Knowe burnt mound, NT10NW 22.01. The Dumfries and Galloway SMR identifies the monument as MDG9937.

References:

Buckley V 1990, Burnt Offerings: International Contributions to Burnt Mound Archaeology, Dublin: Wordwell Ltd.

Halliday S P 1990, 'Patterns of fieldwork and the distribution of burnt mounds in Scotland'. In Buckley, V 1990, Burnt Offerings: International Contributions to Burnt Mound Archaeology, Dublin: Wordwell Ltd, 60-1.

RCAHMS 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, fig 89, pp 100, 292, no. 286. Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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