Ancient Monuments

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Eyre Burn, settlement 1km NNW of Stidriggs

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.2895 / 55°17'22"N

Longitude: -3.4936 / 3°29'36"W

OS Eastings: 305247

OS Northings: 600498

OS Grid: NT052004

Mapcode National: GBR 4718.GP

Mapcode Global: WH5VM.99NW

Entry Name: Eyre Burn, settlement 1km NNW of Stidriggs

Scheduled Date: 15 March 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12607

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: scooped settlement

Location: Kirkpatrick-Juxta

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a multi-phase settlement of later prehistoric date, visible as upstanding earth and stone banks. It lies in rough grazing on a small knoll adjacent to the Kinnel Water, at around 200m above sea level.

The monument has four main elements. The earliest of these are two scooped settlements. The first to be constructed, a homestead, is located at the south of the monument and is an oval scoop with internal measurements of around 30m NW-SE by about 23m transversely. This is enclosed by a stone wall measuring about 3m in width by up to 0.5m high, with evidence of inner and outer facing stones. The wall survives as a rubble spread and on the N side is heavily robbed. On the south is a blocked entrance measuring around 3m wide. The interior of the oval scooped settlement has been levelled up to a depth of 1.2m into the slope of the knoll and there is an upper level on the NW side containing evidence of a hut circle, around 8m in diameter and with an entrance on the east. The lower level also contains evidence of a hut circle, with a diameter of around 6m.

Situated 6m to the NE of the first scooped settlement is another levelled into the SE face of the knoll. This is also oval and enclosed by a stone wall, the interior of which measures around 18m NW-SE by 16m transversely. Where inner and outer facing stones are present the enclosing wall measures up to 2.5m in width and up to 0.5m in height, but elsewhere it has spread. The wall around the back scarp, to the west, has also been heavily robbed. No entrance is visible and a later building, measuring around 13m NW-SE by 7.5m transversely, has been constructed over the S side of the scoop.

Both the scooped settlements have been subsumed into a later, larger oval enclosure measuring around 48m NE-SW by 39m transversely. The settlement is enclosed by a stone wall, mostly reduced to a rubble spread 0.5m high but measuring up to 3.5m in width where facing stones are visible. The entrance to the settlement is on the SE side, between the two earlier elements, which in turn form a passage into the interior. Joined to the NE side of the large settlement is a further enclosure. This is D-shaped and measures around 33m NW-SE by 16m transversely. The SW wall of this enclosure is the NE wall of the largest enclosure. There is an entrance on the SE side, which measures around 5m wide. The remains of a later sheepfold are adjacent to the monument on the SE.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in shape 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. Excluded from the scheduling, to allow for their continued maintenance, are the above-ground elements of a post-and-wire fence that crosses the scheduled area on the SW side.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument survives as a series of well-preserved earthworks, clearly visible on the ground, the form of which indicates that it is a sequence of settlements. These consist of two scooped settlements, a later enclosed settlement and an annexe, all of which probably date to the later prehistoric period (the second half of the first millennium BC and early centuries AD). There is evidence for two hut circles within the scooped homestead. There is also a more recent addition to the site, a sheepfold on the SE side constructed from stone robbed from the settlement wall, but the monument as a whole appears largely intact and undisturbed.

It is highly probable that the ditches and other surviving negative features of all phases will contain archaeologically significant deposits and sediments, as well as artefact and ecofact assemblages. Similar monuments, when excavated, have shown good survival of stratified deposits relating to occupation. The enclosing wall and other upstanding features of the original settlement are likely to preserve traces of the original land surface and soils upon which prehistoric people built the monument. 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.

The monument therefore has an inherent capacity to further our understanding of the activities undertaken within and around the settlements and to inform our knowledge of the people who inhabited it, their social structure and identity, domestic architecture and living arrangements, and any developments of these through the long use of the monument. The monument also has an inherent potential to inform our understanding of the duration of occupation, whether there were 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.

Contextual characteristics

Archaeologists have recognised scooped settlements as a separate class of monuments since 1930s. Most lie in sheltered locations, on lee-facing hill flanks. Defence does not appear to be a primary consideration in location or form. Few have been excavated but those that have indicate that the majority date from the end of the 1st millennium BC through to the beginning of the 1st millennium AD. Romano-British material found at some sites probably dates to the 1st to 2nd century in date. Scooped settlements occur throughout eastern Dumfries and Galloway, where they tend to occur in clustered intervals along the sides of valleys. Of the approximate 180 known in this region, the majority enclose an area of under 0.15ha, with only 60 enclosing an area larger than 0.22ha.

The example is located on a dry knoll around 90m SE of Kinnel Water, in an area of flat boggy ground. There are good views in all directions due to the open nature of the landscape. This setting would appear to be less common than the normally favoured hillsides.

There are a number of other monuments in the vicinity, including numerous cairnfields and burnt mounds. While the majority of the cairns appear to be agricultural in origin there is a notable concentration of more substantial examples 140m to the south. The relationship between these monuments is not clear, but in eastern Dumfries and Galloway it is unusual to find a prehistoric settlement within a cairnfield. There are a number of broadly contemporary settlements, enclosures and other scooped settlements, along the Kinnel Water. The most notable of these is the fort of Stidriggs itself, located 1.34 km to the south-east. Clustering around larger, sometimes defensive, sites is a feature of scooped settlement distribution, which archaeologists interpret as resulting from an outward expansion of settlement through the creation of new, smaller units at the margins.

The stone-walled hut circles within the settlement are unusual in eastern Dumfries and Galloway.

Spatial analysis of Iron-Age scooped settlements, and other forms, 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 monument to gain an insight into the wider knowledge of Iron-Age enclosed settlement across Scotland.

Associative characteristics

The monument is noted as 'Fort' and the earthworks depicted on the Ordnance Survey First and Second Editions.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past, in particular a settlement type that characterises the wider Iron-Age domestic landscape, forming an intrinsic element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern along the Kinnel Water river valley. The well-preserved field remains clearly exhibit evidence for multiple phases of activity, unusual evidence for expansion, as well as some regionally rare architectural features. The monument has the specific capacity to inform our knowledge of the development and evolving form of settlement at what is also an unusual topographical location for such settlements. Domestic remains and artefacts from such 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 the perimeter banks and other upstanding remains may provide information about the nature of the contemporary environment and the use prehistoric inhabitants 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 in relation to the landscape and other contemporary monuments both within eastern Dumfries and Galloway and across Scotland, as well as our knowledge of Iron-Age social structure, economy, and building practices.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland record the monument as Eyre Burn: settlements: scooped; settlement, NT00SE 9 and 9.01. The Dumfries and Galloway Sites and Monument Record identifies the monument as MDG9772.

Aerial photograph used:

RCAHMS 1990 NT00SE 9.0 building, cairnfield, scooped settlement, settlement B38042.

References

RCAHMS, 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 60, 68, 146-7, 300, 317, nos 712 and 1537.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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