Ancient Monuments

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Minsca, settlement 295m WNW of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.1185 / 55°7'6"N

Longitude: -3.2181 / 3°13'5"W

OS Eastings: 322404

OS Northings: 581135

OS Grid: NY224811

Mapcode National: GBR 59Z7.2Y

Mapcode Global: WH6XN.JLRY

Entry Name: Minsca, settlement 295m WNW of

Scheduled Date: 27 January 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12663

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: settlement

Location: Middlebie

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the remains of a later prehistoric enclosed settlement surviving as a substantial earthwork with associated buried deposits. It is located to the north-west of Minsca Farm on grassland at approximately 230m above sea level.

The settlement is formed by a roughly circular earth and rubble bank with an outer ditch approximately 65m in diameter. Joined to the south of this is a section of curving bank and ditch representing a second circular feature, the remainder of which is now scarcely visible on the ground but is visible in oblique aerial photographs. The overall plan of the monument is similar to two conjoined circles. A break in the NE quadrant of the earthwork bank indicates the position of the original entrance to the northernmost part of the site, and this is elaborated by an out-turning of the bank on its E side. The interior of the banked enclosure is uneven but a trackway leading inwards from the entrance is clear. Evidence for at least five houses and two palisade trenches is known in the interior space and this contrasts with the masked, interior features and archaeological deposits of the adjoining enclosure.

The area to be scheduled is oval 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 earthwork monument with upstanding structural features and ploughed-out remains enclosing two roughly circular spaces. Despite localised signs of soil poaching (and comparatively reduced western and southern elements) the surviving monument has much to tell us about the design and construction techniques used here. The presence of a second enclosure feature is a very interesting development and the superimposition of some of the internal features suggests more than just a single building phase. Taken together, these features have the potential to give us a detailed insight into how later prehistoric people built, used and reused this place. The earlier land surface that the monument seals is likely to preserve paleoenvironmental evidence that can help us understand the climate and land cover at the time it was built and in use.

Contextual characteristics

This is very uncommon example of later prehistoric settlement, from a large class of enclosed monuments that would have offered a form of protection by enclosing a small number of houses. The monument has a particularly interesting structural sequence, as revealed by the intercutting of the two circular bank and ditch features, and the houses they enclose.The relationship of the two enclosed areas is unclear but researchers suggest the S enclosure was added later. It is a very clear example of the closely spaced settlements that characterise part of the later prehistoric settlement record for SW Scotland. Two concentric palisade trenches within the northern enclosure may be the earliest visible remains at the site and, contrary to a possible sequence in other examples (which developed from an unenclosed to an enclosed site), in this case we may be seeing a development from an enclosed monument to an unenclosed monument and back to an enclosed monument again. There is tremendous potential in this earthwork enclosure for preservation of buildings, structures and occupation debris that can tell us much about the lives and connections of the communities that built and inhabited the site.

This settlement is part of the increasing exploitation and settlement of SW Scotland during the first millennium BC to early centuries AD and is an important example of variation in the construction, position and spacing of settlement. It has views in all directions but its position is not the obvious prominent landmark location occupied by many similar defended settlements. It therefore has the potential to tell us much about the land management and larger settlement practice in SW Scotland during later prehistory and the reasons for the siting of these monuments at particular points in the landscape.

Associative characteristics

The site appears on first edition and subsequent Ordnance Survey mapping.

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 later prehistoric settlement and economy. It has the potential to tell us much about the design, build and use of enclosed or defended settlements and the ways in which they develop, and is notable for its visible complex construction sequence, including the preservation of evidence for features constructed out of timber. The presence of a second later enclosure adds to our interest here. It is part of the wider exploitation and settlement of SW Scotland and an integral landscape feature characterising the upland margins of the southwest. The surviving structures and archaeological deposits have much to tell us about the people that settled here and the loss of this monument would significantly impact on our ability to understand and explain the development of prehistoric settlement in Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the monument as NY28SW 5. Dumfries and Galloway Council Sites and Monuments Record records the site as MDG 7554.


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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