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Frenchland, farmstead and cultivation remains 695m north east of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.3376 / 55°20'15"N

Longitude: -3.4167 / 3°25'0"W

OS Eastings: 310235

OS Northings: 605753

OS Grid: NT102057

Mapcode National: GBR 46LQ.2F

Mapcode Global: WH6WL.H36G

Entry Name: Frenchland, farmstead and cultivation remains 695m NE of

Scheduled Date: 15 March 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12726

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: farmstead

Location: Moffat

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the remains of a farmstead and associated cultivation, visible as a series of earthworks and probably dating to the pre-Improvement period. The earthworks demonstrate the presence of at least four and possibly as many as eight, buildings, showing as turf-covered wall footings and associated yards. Around the buildings are ranged the earthwork remains of a number of field banks, areas of rig-and-furrow cultivation and a sunken trackway. The monument is located on a S-facing spur at the foot of Auldton Hill, around 170m above sea-level.

Three of the buildings are ranged around the N, S and W sides of a yard in the NW part of the complex. The W building, aligned N-S measures 19.3m by 5m. That on the N, aligned E-W measures 12.7m by 5.4m. The building on the S side of the yard measures 16.3m E-W by 4.7m and has an entrance on the S side. To the SE of this main cluster of buildings is another probable structure, measuring 11.8m from NE-SW by 5m transversely and located at the N corner of a probable enclosure. To the east of this group of buildings is a N-S aligned sunken trackway. This bisects the extent of the visible remains, and extends to the modern field boundaries to the north and south.

To the east of the main group of buildings, between them and the road, is another enclosure at the E corner of which is a possible building measuring 9.4m N-S by 4.4m transversely. Around 35m to the SE, on the other side of the sunken trackway, are the remains of two parallel-set structures, around 10m and 12m long respectively. The most clearly identifiable building is located in the SE corner of the complex of remains. This is aligned NNE-SSW and measures 13.8m by 5.1m, has an entrance on its W side, and is located in the SW corner of an adjoining enclosure.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in plan, to include the visible remains and an area around them within which evidence relating to their creation 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

A farmstead is a small-scale settlement, defined as a farmhouse and associated farm buildings that would have been occupied by one tenant or owner and labourers. The settlement was rural in nature and may have been associated with cultivated fields, the limits of which may be delineated by a head dyke. In this example there is a broad gap discernable between field banks to the north-east of the farmstead. This has been interpreted as a potential droveway, allowing the movement of livestock from the farmstead to the hill grazings to the north.

Aside from the main farmhouse(s), associated buildings can include barns, byres, kilns, kiln-barns, bull-sheds, cart-sheds, pig sties and mills as well as structures such as hay stack bases, kailyards and flax pits. Such structures may have been constructed of turf, timber or stone, those of turf being particularly vulnerable to later ploughing. The settlement may have been in use for a number of generations and domestic dwellings may have been used for other functions as their condition deteriorated and they were replaced, causing an agglomerative effect and the preservation of earlier settlement remains beneath later structures.

The degree of preservation of the structural elements here indicate that land use in the immediate vicinity since the settlement was abandoned has not significantly impacted on the monument. The monument has survived well as a series of earthworks and potentially associated deposits and artefacts. These have an inherent potential to inform our knowledge of pre-Improvement rural vernacular architecture and our understanding of domestic living arrangements, potentially over a period of some time. There is also potential for the survival of archaeologically significant deposits within and around the monument. These deposits have an inherent capacity to further our understanding of contemporary society and its associated material culture and can inform our knowledge of social, religious and economic activities that formed the daily lives of the inhabitants.

The potential to indentify the functions of individual buildings within the farmstead can inform our understanding of the organization of rural settlement and further our knowledge of the provision for various domestic, agricultural and industrial practices to be undertaken at such locations. The monument also has the capacity to contribute to our knowledge of the development of rural settlement through time and the reasons and chronology behind its eventual abandonment.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located on the lower slopes of high ground to the north and east of Moffat and around 2 km north-east of the River Annan. There are clear views across the river valley to the south and west. The Frenchland Burn is located to the immediate east of the monument and the land rises beyond its ravine, providing shelter on that side. A classic location for such settlements is on the break of a slope, which may mark the boundary between arable and pasture. In this case there is a break in slope 200m to the N of the monument, where the slope becomes much steeper, which may form such a boundary, despite the absence of a convincing head dyke.

There are a number of potentially contemporary monuments in the vicinity. Most notably, Frenchland Tower, a 17th-century tower house is located around 420m to the south and the sunken trackway bisecting the monument would appear to lead to the tower, though the track can not be traced past the field boundary and has probably been removed through subsequent agricultural practice. To the west, 860m away, is Auldton Mote. A homestead moat has been identified 270m to the north-west. As with the trackway, the nature of more recent land use in fields surrounding that containing the monument has removed visible traces of the former landscape which could have helped our interpretation of how this monument directly related to other contemporary remains. Also present in the same field, to the immediate south-west of the monument, is the earthwork remains of a later prehistoric settlement. The nature of any relationship between these two monuments is uncertain, though the later rig-and-furrow can be seen to encroach on the prehistoric remains.

Survival of large-scale rural settlement is rare in eastern Dumfries and Galloway, with only two monuments classified as 'fermtouns' identified from physical remains. There are, however, a number of individual farmsteads and buildings identified through field survey, including this example. Hearth tax returns dating to the late 17th century also indicate that the landscape was populated by a number of small townships, across both the uplands and lowlands. Moffatdale contains the greatest concentration of medieval and later settlement remains in Upper Annandale. However the fragmentary nature of survival of relict landscape also indicates that the pattern formed by surviving remains is not a true reflection of what formerly existed within the landscape. Research into three other examples of rural settlement in Moffatdale, although much smaller, has indicated that settlements differed in nature and character over relatively short distances. In addition to the farmsteads sites identified on the lower slopes, a number of individual buildings have also been identified dispersed on the upper slopes of Moffatdale. Their nature is unclear but they may be a mixture of cottar's houses, bothies, byres, sheepcotes and sheds.

This monument is a significant and rare element in the surviving landscape of pre-Improvement settlement in this area. When compared and contrasted to other pre-Improvement settlement remains it can inform our knowledge of the nature of rural settlement at this time. This can further our understanding of where settlement was located, how the landscape was organised, used and controlled and how it may have evolved over time, as well as the impact of agricultural improvements on the landscape and rural population.

Associative characteristics

The farmstead is not depicted on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey published in 1863 or on Roy's Military survey of 1747-55. This indicates that the settlement had been abandoned and upstanding structural elements largely 'removed' some time before the mid-18th century, probably due to changes in agricultural practice in the 18th century. The monument has an inherent potential to inform our understanding of the practical effects of the 'Improvement' in this part of rural Scotland and the mobile nature of settlement as a result. There is a great potential for archaeological evidence held within this site to inform and complement pre-existing knowledge gained through documentary research.

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 pre-Improvement rural architecture, domestic arrangements, settlement pattern and land use, potentially over some period of time and developing as a consequence. It also has an inherent capacity to contribute to our knowledge of the practical effects that new farming methods had on a lowland rural landscape and population. The unusually good survival of the farmstead in a lowland setting enhances this potential, as much of the artefactual and ecofactual evidence is likely to survive. The loss of this monument would impede our ability to understand better the economic, agricultural and domestic changes in early modern rural eastern Dumfries and Galloway and across Scotland as a result of new farming theory and practice.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The RCAHMS database records this monument as Frenchland, farmstead; cultivation remains, NT10NW2 and have also classified it as a fermtoun. Dumfries and Galloway Sites and Monuments Record note this monument as MDG399. Copies of these short reports are appended.

Aerial Photograph used:

RCAHMS, 1991 Frenchland farmstead. B 47295


RCAHMS, 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, 233, 315 no. 1413, Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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