Ancient Monuments

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Stennieswaterfoot, homestead and enclosure 335m south west of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale East and Eskdale, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.2212 / 55°13'16"N

Longitude: -3.1112 / 3°6'40"W

OS Eastings: 329406

OS Northings: 592452

OS Grid: NY294924

Mapcode National: GBR 68Q2.74

Mapcode Global: WH6XB.51Q5

Entry Name: Stennieswaterfoot, homestead and enclosure 335m SW of

Scheduled Date: 27 January 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12623

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: homestead

Location: Westerkirk

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale East and Eskdale

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire

Description

The monument comprises the earthwork remains of a house platform and contiguous enclosure, likely to date from the later prehistoric period and probably from the second millennium BC. The monument is located at between 160m and 170m above sea level, on an E-facing slope, on the W side of the Stennies Water river valley.

The monument comprises two contiguous elements. The first is a sub-circular house platform to the north, which measures around 12m in diameter. It is defined by a turf-covered, spread stony bank, up to 4m in width and 0.4m high. On its W side the bank merges with an uphill scarp, up to 1.4m high. On the S side there is a large stone slab, around 2m by 1.5m, incorporated within the bank. Traces of an entrance are visible in the centre of the bank on the downhill, E side. An enclosure is adjacent to the S side of the homestead. This element is irregular in shape and measures around 15m N-S by 10m transversely and is bounded by a stony scarp around 1m high on the E side.

The area to be scheduled is polygonal on plan to include the visible remains of the monument and an area around within which evidence relating to its construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. On the N side the scheduled area extends up to, but excludes, the stone dyke.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is visible as upstanding earthworks, the form of which indicates that it is a house platform with attached enclosure and is likely to date to the later prehistoric period. The natural terrace of the slope was used and augmented for the building of a single roundhouse, a domestic dwelling. The enclosure was possibly a yard area, perhaps for animals. The monument does not appear to have been disturbed and therefore has the potential to retain deposits and sediments within negative features that relate to its use. These features, such as post holes, pits and other deposits, may also contain artefacts that relate to activities undertaken within the monument and also its final abandonment. The monument has an inherent potential to further our understanding of its inhabitants, their daily lives, their diet, society, economy and beliefs.

The monument may also retain details of the way in which the roundhouse was constructed and which can inform our knowledge of the style and design of domestic architecture at this time. All these elements have the capacity to inform our understanding of how prehistoric people used and perceived domestic space and the links between this and cosmological beliefs and practices. In addition, the upstanding elements of the monument were probably constructed/deposited onto the contemporary land surface and have the potential to retain important environmental information. The monument has the ability to inform our knowledge of the environment in which it was constructed, how the landscape may have been used and what it looked like.

Contextual characteristics

Bronze Age settlement is not commonly identified in eastern Dumfries and Galloway, and in the case of unenclosed house platforms only 14 sites have been noted in the area. Where they do occur they tend to be single, as in this example, or in pairs, rather than in larger groups. This paucity of evidence is likely to relate to later land use, which may have caused destruction through agriculture and masking by forestry.

The classification of this site as a house platform is not without its problems and there is an alternative interpretation that the monument may represent a later, Iron-Age scooped settlement. However, on the basis of the evidence available to us, the interpretation of house platform and attached enclosure is the more likely. The form of the monument is a result of the hillside location and in this case the monument is on a river valley slope. Excavation of house platforms has demonstrated that this monument type may have originated at least as early the late 3rd millennium BC and that where multiple examples occur together they may have been occupied with successive structures for several hundred years. Archaeologists think most date to the second millennium BC, however.

The monument is located on a natural terrace on an E-facing slope of the W side of the Stennies Water river valley around 165m above sea level. There are good views along the river valley and across to the opposing side. Around 310m to the north-east, and upstream, is the confluence of the Stennies Water with Meggat Water, and 1.28 km downstream to the south-east Stennies Water joins the River Esk.

This area is rich in prehistoric remains and there are a number of settlement and enclosed sites noted in the immediate vicinity, though probably of later date. While this may be a result of more favourable conditions for preservation and original distribution may have been different, it is an unusually dense concentration. Other types of site, such as cairns and burnt mounds are absent in the area. On the opposite of the valley, 380m to the east, is a scooped settlement. Some 1280m to the north-east is a further settlement formed from a modified natural hollow in the slope. An enclosure is noted in close proximity to this monument. Further settlements are noted 638m SSW, 1.11km SE, 970m SW and 980m WSW. Further study and comparison of these monuments with one another may inform our understanding of settlement type and character in this area including location, density, chronology, contemporaneity and phasing of occupation, and perhaps indicate social hierarchies. This in turn could add to understanding of the regional character of settlement across Scotland.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to contribute to an understanding of the past, in particular later prehistoric settlement and economy. Specifically, this monument has the capacity to inform us of a particular settlement type, which characterises certain parts of the Bronze-Age and later domestic landscape, and which forms an intrinsic element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern along the valley of the River Esk, and associated tributaries. Domestic remains and artefacts from settlements have the potential to tell us about wider prehistoric society, its architecture, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contacts with. The old ground surfaces sealed by upstanding remains can provide information about what the contemporary environment looked like, how the farmers who lived there managed it, and how field systems may relate to structures. Its importance is increased by its proximity to other monuments of potentially contemporary date and the capacity it therefore has to inform us about the nature of relationships between them. Spatial analysis of monuments may inform our understanding of patterns of landholding and the expansion, or contraction, of settlement. Its loss or diminution would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape both in eastern Dumfries and Galloway and in other parts of Scotland, as well as our knowledge of later prehistoric social structure, economy and building practice.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as Stennieswaterfoot, homestead, enclosure, NY29SE 44. Dumfries and Galloway Sites and Monuments Record notes the monument as MDG7668.

References:

RCAHMS 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, Nos 142, 100, Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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