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Broomhillbank Hill, fort

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.2063 / 55°12'22"N

Longitude: -3.367 / 3°22'1"W

OS Eastings: 313103

OS Northings: 591077

OS Grid: NY131910

Mapcode National: GBR 48X7.VH

Mapcode Global: WH6X6.7DXN

Entry Name: Broomhillbank Hill, fort

Scheduled Date: 5 February 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12660

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: fort (includes hill and promontory fort)

Location: Applegarth

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a later prehistoric hilltop fort and survives as a substantial earthwork with associated buried deposits. It is located on Broomhillbank Hill at approximately 260m above sea level on the E side of Annandale.

The fort is roughly circular and measures 49m in diameter between twin ramparts. The ramparts vary in width between 5.5m and 8m and between 0.5m and 1m high. A ditch separates the ramparts and this is generally less than 0.5m deep by about 3m wide. Two entrances (in the W and SW quadrants) interrupt the bank and ditch sequence and there is a further break in the outer bank (possibly from modern disturbance) to the north of the W entrance. The E entrance is causewayed and the interior enclosed by a quarry ditch abutting the inner rampart. Two ring-ditch houses have been recorded in the fort's interior.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, centred on the monument, to include the remains described and an area around within 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

This is a well-preserved monument. Despite there being signs of small-scale erosion to the banks, the interior appears relatively intact and this suggests there may be considerable and widespread archaeological deposits surviving from the fort's construction and use. The twin bank and ditch feature, and the entrances that cut it, may reflect more than one phase of building, while the interior is likely to contain deposits that can tell us much about the building style and construction techniques used to create the monument. Remains of the two recorded houses in the interior can tell us about the domestic arrangements of their occupiers while the enclosure banks are likely to seal an earlier land surface that can help us understand more of the contemporary environment and physical conditions. The ditch fill between the banks is likely to preserve organic and artefactual remains that accumulated during the fort's use or after its abandonment.

Contextual characteristics

This is an important example of a type of later prehistoric settlement that researchers think is primarily defensive in its function. Its location on Broomhillbank Hill, overlooking lower ground, and its substantial enclosing ditch and bank sequence suggest that defence was a key design criterion. Such forts tend to be found in upland areas of E and SW Scotland, but this distribution is likely to be an oversimplification created by the impacts of more recent agriculture in the lowlands.

Excavated examples of similar forms of fort suggest they date from the mid-first millennium BC onwards to the early centuries AD. They are likely to be part of much larger prehistoric land management systems because they usually survive in landscapes with broadly contemporary, smaller settlements, homesteads and individual farmhouses on lower, more fertile ground, such as this example in Annandale. In this case, the relationship of this fort to a second fort only 250m to the south-west remains unclear. However, their joint dominance over the wider landscape along Annandale from this key strategic position is clear, with extensive all-round views. It therefore has the potential to tell us much about the land management and larger settlement practice in SW Scotland during later prehistory.

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 forts or defended settlements dating to the later prehistoric period. The combination of large upstanding earthworks and a relatively undisturbed interior likely to contain significant artefactual and ecofactual material suggest this monument can tell us a great deal about the domestic, defensive and economic activities that took place at these sites. This can help us understand wider prehistoric society and the connections those who lived here had with other communities. Its proximity to similar monuments close by and in the surrounding hills, and its location overlooking the wider landscape of Annandale, adds to our interest here. The loss of this monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand later prehistoric defended settlement in SW Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the monument as NY19SW 9. Dumfries and Galloway Council Sites and Monuments Record records the site as MDG 7350.

References:

Christison D 1891, 'A general view of the forts, camps, and motes of Dumfriesshire, with a detailed study of those in Upper Annandale and an introduction to the study of Scottish motes', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 50 (1890-1), 248-9.

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, HMSO: Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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