Ancient Monuments

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Kirkholm Hill, enclosure 500m west of Dinwoodie Lodge Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.2021 / 55°12'7"N

Longitude: -3.4151 / 3°24'54"W

OS Eastings: 310030

OS Northings: 590675

OS Grid: NY100906

Mapcode National: GBR 48L8.FZ

Mapcode Global: WH6X5.HHZV

Entry Name: Kirkholm Hill, enclosure 500m W of Dinwoodie Lodge Cottage

Scheduled Date: 27 January 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12737

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: enclosure (domestic or defensive)

Location: Applegarth

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of an enclosure likely to date to later prehistory (most probably the first millennium BC). Aerial photographs show the buried remains of the enclosure ditch, indicating that the enclosure was subrectangular in shape with an entrance to the south. Ploughing has largely levelled the upstanding features although the N side of the enclosure ditch remains visible and is accompanied by a low internal bank. The monument is located on a prominent ridge of higher ground above the E bank of the River Annan at about 70m above sea level. Its E and W sides follow the contours of the ridge and it currently lies within improved pasture.

The inner bank of the enclosure is a grass-covered earth mound, much reduced by ploughing. It survives best to the north where it measures up to 7m wide and 0.6m high and elsewhere it is visible as a slight scarp or crest line. The bank encloses an area measuring about 46m N-S by 32m transversely. A shallow external ditch visible to the north measures up to 4.4m wide and shows traces of a low counterscarp bank beyond. Cropmarks visible on aerial photographs augment the visible remains and suggest that further evidence exists below ground. The cropmarks show the complete circuit of the external ditch, indicating that it enclosed an area measuring a maximum of 65m N-S by 45m transversely and with a probable entrance gap in the south measuring around 5.5m wide. The cropmarks also indicate the position of another ditch some 20m long, aligned WNW-ESE, crossing the ridge about 32m south of the enclosure.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment 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 monument is a later prehistoric enclosure sited in a lowland landscape. It may represent the boundary of a settlement, although evidence for internal features has not been identified. The indications of both an inner bank and external counterscarp bank to the north certainly show a measure of defensive intent on the part of the builders. Although the enclosing bank has been much reduced by later ploughing, and the ditches largely infilled, aerial photography suggests that extensive archaeological remains of the enclosure survive below ground. These buried remains can help us to understand more about the design, construction, phasing and use of defensive structures. Potential also exists for the survival of buried land surfaces beneath the enclosure banks. These could preserve information about the environment before the monument was constructed, adding to the time-depth represented by the remains. The upstanding banks may contain evidence relating to the creation, use and abandonment of the enclosure, helping to inform our understanding of the character of late prehistoric defended settlement, including local variations in domestic architecture and building use. Additional buried remains may also exist within the interior of the enclosure, and have the potential to tell us more about its occupation and use. Negative features, such as postholes and pits, may contain archaeologically significant deposits that can further our understanding of society, ritual, economy, agriculture and domestic architecture.

Contextual characteristics

Defended settlements were built at various times from at least the end of the late Bronze Age (around 800 BC) until probably the end of the early Middle Ages (around 1000 AD). It is clear that at some sites the first defensive systems began to appear in the Bronze Age. However, the majority of monuments excavated so far have produced evidence for Iron-Age occupation ranging from the mid- to late 1st millennium BC.

This enclosure lies close to the valley bottom in a lowland context, 300m W of the course of the Roman road that leads north up Annandale towards the Clyde Valley. Enclosures and defended settlements in lowland Annandale are likely to be under-represented in the archaeological record because of their vulnerability to plough damage. This enclosure can be compared with several other monuments recorded on OS mapping in the mid-19th century, which now survive mainly or only as cropmarks; these include enclosures at Dalton, Fairholm, Dryfesdalegate and Catharine's Hill. The enclosure at Catharine's Hill lies in a similar landscape setting on a rise beside the River Annan some 8.5km further north and there is good evidence that complex round-house remains lie preserved within its interior despite intermittent cultivation. Kirkholm Hill's slightly trapezoidal shape may also be compared with enclosures lying higher in the landscape at Hangingshaw and Shaw of Dryfe; the former lies 860m to the SSW and contains traces of a timber roundhouse. These comparisons suggest that this monument may likewise have been used as a settlement. The existence of comparable sites in the vicinity means that the monument has enhanced research potential, and can contribute towards a better understanding of prehistoric enclosures and defended settlements, particularly those sited in lowland positions. The construction and layout of enclosures, including size, number of entrances, design and placement in the landscape are all important in understanding this type of monument. The monument also complements the other types of prehistoric sites identified in the vicinity, to provide a fuller picture of the development of prehistoric landscape and society in the region over time. Nearby monuments include a group of cremation burials 320m to the ESE.

Associative characteristics

The enclosure is depicted on the OS 1st Edition map surveyed in the mid-19th century and is classified as 'Site of Fort'. It also appears on the OS 2nd Edition map.

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 enclosures and defended settlements in later prehistoric SW Scotland. It survives to a limited degree above ground but there is good evidence for extensive and complex archaeological remains below the surface, particularly relating to the enclosure circuit. The enclosure banks and ditches have high potential for survival of buried material such as structural remains, artefacts and ecofacts that were either buried when the monument was built or relate to its use or abandonment. It has a particular capacity to inform debate on changes in the character and distribution of enclosures and settlements through time. It has the potential to tell us about wider prehistoric society, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contacts with. Its importance is increased by any 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 function. Spatial analysis of sites may inform our understanding of patterns of landholding and the expansion of settlement. Its loss or diminution would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape both in Dumfries and Galloway and in other parts of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the site as NY19SW 15. The Dumfries and Galloway SMR records the site as MDG7326.

References:

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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