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Hunterheck Cottages, scooped settlements 95m NNE of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.3307 / 55°19'50"N

Longitude: -3.4203 / 3°25'13"W

OS Eastings: 309989

OS Northings: 604990

OS Grid: NT099049

Mapcode National: GBR 46KS.9X

Mapcode Global: WH6WL.F8HR

Entry Name: Hunterheck Cottages, scooped settlements 95m NNE of

Scheduled Date: 12 March 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12733

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: scooped settlement; Secular: field system

Location: Moffat

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the remains of a complex of two scooped settlements and two enclosures, dating from the first millennium BC. It is visible as a series of earthworks covering an area around 0.19 ha in extent. The monument is located on a terrace on the E bank of the Frenchland Burn around 40m to the west and at around 120m above sea level.

The monument comprises a series of earthworks and enclosures. Archaeologists have interpreted these as two scooped settlements, two enclosures, one earlier than or contemporary with the scooped settlements and one later, a trackway and later rig-and-furrow cultivation. The first scooped settlement lies on the edge of the terrace and its N and W sides are defined by a natural rise in the ground along these edges and the slope down to the burn. It is roughly oval on plan and measures around 53.5m ESE-WNW by 47m transversely within a grass-grown, earth-and-stone bank. The bank measures up to 4.5m thick with an internal height of 1m. The bank has been levelled on the NE side and there is an entrance gap 3m wide with slightly inturned terminals on the south-west.

The second scooped settlement is located to the immediate east of the first. It has an internal diameter of around 45m within a low, ploughed-down bank, the best preserved part of which is on the N side and is about 4m thick. To the south-west of the second scooped settlement, and adjoining the S end of the first scooped settlement, is a contemporary or earlier enclosure, which also respects the SW entrance of the first scooped settlement. This enclosure is roughly oval on plan, with a scooped interior and measures 20m N-S by 16m transversely within a low stony bank. The second scooped settlement is located within the W side of a further, later enclosure, the W end of which also lies over the NE portion of the first scooped settlement. This enclosure measures 52m ESE-WNW by 20m transversely within a low stony bank.

Remains of later rig-and-furrow cultivation survive to the south and east of the settlement complex, and a later trackway, from the north-east, cuts across the first scooped settlement, and through the bank of the later enclosure.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the visible remains of the monument as well as an area around it within which evidence relating to its construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling extends up to but specifically excludes the boundary of Hunterheck Cottages, to allow for its maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is comprised of a complex of juxtaposed and adjoining features the interpretation of which derives from the results of the 1997 RCAHMS survey. The form of the two main enclosures indicates that they are scooped settlements and probably date to the Iron Age. These may have had two interior levels and internal divisions. The upper level of scooped settlements is usually where evidence relating to domestic structures is found while the lower level may have functioned as a yard or court.

The two enclosures on the site mask some of the features and may blur distinctions between separate elements and phases. It is likely that the remains represent a long duration of settlement at the site, either continuous or in distinct and temporally separate phases. There is no visible surface evidence for buildings or structures relating to any of the settlements or enclosures within the complex but it is probable that evidence for such structures survives as buried features and associated deposits. The enclosed nature of settlement and the steep edge defined by the slope to the burn to the north and west indicates that defence or an appearance of defence may have been an important factor in the monument's construction and location.

The monument survives well as upstanding elements and with interlaying features relating to different phases of occupation and use. It is likely that evidence relating to these different phases will survive within the monument. These may survive both within negative features such as post-holes and pits and underneath upstanding elements such as the walls and banks. There is no evidence to suggest that the monument has been excavated. The enclosing wall and other upstanding features are likely to preserve traces of the land surface and soils upon which the monument was created. These have the capacity to inform our knowledge of the environment within which the monument was constructed and can further our understanding of how the environment was used and altered through time.

It is highly probable that the ditches and other surviving negative features of both phases will contain archaeologically significant deposits and sediments, as well as artefact and ecofact assemblages. Organic elements are especially likely to survive in the lower lying areas of the interior that are waterlogged. Similar monuments, when excavated, have shown good survival of stratified deposits relating to occupation. The monument therefore has an inherent capacity to further our understanding of the activities undertaken within and around the settlement and inform our knowledge of the people who inhabited it, their social structure and identity, domestic architecture and living arrangements. The monument also has an inherent potential to inform our understanding of the duration of occupation, the sequence of different and distinct phases of use and the circumstances within which the monument may have functioned and been finally abandoned.

Artefact assemblages in particular have the capacity to further our understanding of the nature of contact with other groups of people from within the region or from further afield, such as the incoming Romans during the period in which the monument was a scooped settlement.

Around the monument in the south and east are traces of later rig-and-furrow cultivation. The survival of this has the potential to further our understanding of later agricultural practice in the vicinity and its relationship to earlier activity at the site.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located in a locally elevated position on the E bank of Frenchland Burn, on land gently sloping to the west at the SW foot of Hunterheck Hill. The River Annan is located 1.73 km to the west. The landscape is open with good views to the south, north and west and, despite the enclosed nature of the monument and the use of the local topography on the N and W side, it does not lie in a location easy to defend.

The complex nature of the remains at Hunterheck is rare, with at least three possible phases of use or construction evident. A possible comparison has been noted at Easter Earshaig in the parish of Kirkpatrick-Juxta to the south-west. Here there are a series of irregular enclosures across gently sloping ground on the S side of a small conventional scooped settlement enclosing around 0.08ha. However, here, as at Hunterheck, the exact sequence of construction of the different features is difficult to establish.

Scooped settlements are found widely throughout eastern Dumfries and Galloway and there are around 180 recorded in the area. The majority enclose an area of under 0.15ha, with only 60 enclosing an area larger than 0.22ha. Sheltered slopes are favoured with defence apparently not a primary consideration. Evidence from excavated examples has indicated that scooped settlements date from the end of the 1st millennium BC through to the beginning of the 1st millennium AD.

Scooped settlements are often located not far from larger defended sites. In the case of Hunterheck such a monument has not yet been identified in the immediate vicinity. In general the river valley to the south of Moffat is less populated with 'forts' than that of the valley of the Annan to the north of Moffat. However, the degree of contemporaneity with such sites and the nature of potential relationships between them are as yet poorly understood. Further analysis of this monument and comparison with others may prove contemporaneity and evidence a system of settlement hierarchy. Spatial analysis of scooped settlements and other settlement types in the region may further our understanding of settlement location, the structure of society, and economy. We can use information gained from the preservation and study of this site to gain wider knowledge of Iron-Age enclosed settlement across Scotland.

Associative characteristics

The monument appears on the Ordnance Survey First edition as 'Fort (remains of)', indicating that it has been recognised and valued for some time.

National Importance

This complex monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to inform us of a settlement type that characterises the wider Iron-Age domestic landscape. The monument forms an intrinsic element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern along the River Annan valley. Domestic remains and artefacts from settlements have the potential to tell us about wider society, its architecture, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contacts with. In this area in particular analysis of scooped settlements and associated cultural material may provide evidence of native-Roman interaction. The well-preserved and complex nature of the monument is particularly important as it may contain evidence that could aid our understanding of settlement and land-use sequence and change. The old ground surfaces sealed by the perimeter banks and other upstanding remains may provide information about the nature of the contemporary environment and the use prehistoric farmers made of it. Spatial analysis of sites may inform our understanding of patterns of landholding and the expansion of settlement. Its loss or diminution would impede significantly our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape both in eastern Dumfries and Galloway and across Scotland, as well as our knowledge or Iron-Age social structure, economy and building practices.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as Hunterheck, settlements; scooped; enclosures; rig, NT10NW 5. A copy of this short report is appended. The Dumfries and Galloway sites and monuments record lists the monument as MDG401.

Aerial photograph used:

RCAHMS (1998) NT10NW 5 Hunterheck B47305


Christison, D 1891, 'A general view of the forts, camps, and motes of Dumfriesshire, with a detailed description of those in Upper Annandale, and an introduction to the study of Scottish motes', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 25, 1890-9, no. 32.

Kokeza, N 2008, Later Prehistoric Enclosed Site Evidence of Southern Scotland: A Study of the sites from Peeblesshire, Berwickshire and E. Dumfriesshire, Brit Archaeol Rep Brit Ser 469.

RCAHMS 1997 Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, 68, 300 No. 730, Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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