Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric settlement, 170m south west of West Bold Cottages

A Scheduled Monument in Tweeddale East, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.6173 / 55°37'2"N

Longitude: -3.0139 / 3°0'49"W

OS Eastings: 336240

OS Northings: 636437

OS Grid: NT362364

Mapcode National: GBR 73DH.95

Mapcode Global: WH7WK.P20H

Entry Name: Prehistoric settlement, 170m SW of West Bold Cottages

Scheduled Date: 27 May 1971

Last Amended: 9 September 2020

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3026

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Traquair

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Tweeddale East

Traditional County: Selkirkshire


The monument comprises the remains of a multi-period prehistoric and later settlement visible as a complex series of earthworks and enclosures at the northeast foot of Plora Craig.

The settlement is enclosed by a sub-circular outer bank within which there is a round house and a further enclosure which has at least three internal sub-divisions. On the western edge of the outer enclosure is a sub-rectangular enclosure which may be later than the other phases of enclosure. At least two other rectangular scoops or enclosures are also visible within the monument. These may also represent later phases of activity. A later track cuts through the monument. The monument is located on a spur of land above the Plora Burn with good views northwards over the Tweed Valley.

The settlement is sub-circular defined by two enclosing earthen banks and measures 85m by 82m overall with a sub-rectangular annexe on the west side which measures around 50m x 20m. A further line of enclosure lies around 25m to the east of the settlement, running north north-east to south south-west. In the northwest section of the monument survey has shown that there is a circular structure, likely a prehistoric round house measuring around 8m in diameter. The smallest of the settlement enclosures measures around 50m in diameter. It has at least three internal sub-divisions and sits within the larger enclosure. There are at least two annexes, one on the west side and other possible annexe on the south, however, the latter has been truncated by the modern forestry track and its form is not clear. The western annexe has two enclosed areas within it. To the east of the settlement and adjacent the outer enclosing bank is a rectangular building which may be of medieval origin.

The scheduled area is irregular. It includes the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area extends up to but does not include the forestry track on its southern edge and up to but does not include the drystone wall on its north-eastern edge.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s) (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17):

a.  The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past, as a multi-phase settlement dating to the Iron Age. In particular, it adds to our understanding of Iron Age society in southern Scotland and the construction, use and development of later prehistoric settlements.

b.  The monument retains structural and other physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past. The monument survives as upstanding remains with the two or more phases and sub-divisions within its perimeter. There is also a significant likelihood for the survival of buried archaeological deposits within and around the settlement.

d.  The monument is a particularly good example of an enclosed prehistoric settlement. It shows development through time and has evidence of internal sub-divisions. It is therefore an important representative of this monument type.

e.  The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding of the past. In particular it can tell us about the character and development of Iron Age settlements in southeast Scotland, as well as society and economy during this period.

f.  The monument makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the historic landscape by its association with a wider cluster of later prehistoric remains in the Tweed Valley.

Assessment of Cultural Significance

This statement of national importance has been informed by the following assessment of cultural significance:

Intrinsic characteristics (how the remains of a site or place contribute to our knowledge of the past)

The monument consists of the remains of a well-preserved later prehistoric settlement. It is defined by two sets of substantial turf-covered stone banks on a spur of flat land at the foot of Plora Craig. The remains of several scooped areas, defined by banks are visible within the interior, a prehistoric round house and later square enclosure, along with a rectangular structure of medieval or post-medieval date to the east of the main settlement. Although the phasing of the various elements of the settlement is uncertain, the overall plan of the monument is clear and understandable.

There is good potential for the survival of archaeological deposits, including occupation and abandonment debris, artefacts and environmental remains such as charcoal and pollen within, beneath and around the remains of the settlement. These deposits can help us understand more about prehistoric domestic and agricultural practice, and the significance of materials, technology and craft in a domestic-agricultural context. This monument has the potential to add to our understanding of settlement, land-use and environment during later prehistory. It can provide information about the economy, diet and social status of the occupants and the structure of contemporary society and economy.

Excavations at comparable enclosed settlements to West Bold demonstrate that such settlements were built and used between around 800 BC and 400 AD. They represent enclosed farmsteads that could have accommodated an extended family. There are indications that the remains at West Bold developed over an extended period of time, possibly into the early medieval or medieval periods. A rectangular building of medieval or post-medieval date within the outer enclosure indicates re-use of this settlement at a later date. Scientific study of this site would allow us to develop a better understanding of the nature and chronology of the scooped settlements, including their date of origin, the character of the remains and any possible development sequence.

Contextual characteristics (how a site or place relates to its surroundings and/or to our existing knowledge of the past)

Scooped settlements are primarily found in the uplands of eastern Dumfriesshire and the Scottish Borders, as well as the north of England. They comprise settlements that are wholly or partly scooped into the slope. Around 200 such monuments have been recorded in Scotland. The example at West Bold is of particular significance because of its state of preservation and complexity.

In form the monument has similarities with prehistoric scooped settlements such as Laverlaw (Canmore ID 51239) and Common Knowe (Canmore ID 53129). These settlements have a similar arrangement of enclosure with scooped or terraced courtyards in the interior. Excavations of similar monuments elsewhere for example Boonies (Canmore ID 67818), Long Knowe (SM3819; Canmore ID 67287), Fourmerklandhill (Canmore ID 66774) and Hetha Burn I (Northumberland) demonstrate that such settlements date to the Iron Age.

The monument at West Bold forms part of wider cluster of prehistoric settlements in the area, including The Kirna (scheduled monument SM 2937, Canmore ID 53171), Old Caberston (scheduled monument SM3036 Canmore ID 53121), Cedarwood (Canmore ID 360853) and Pirn Wood, fort (SM1491; Canmore ID 53170). There is potential to study these sites together to better understand their functions within the local communities, settlement hierarchy and possible chronological development in the area. The monument has the potential to enhance and broaden our understanding of prehistoric society and community as well as social organisation, land division and land use.

Associative characteristics (how a site or place relates to people, events, and/or historic and social movements)

There are no known associative characteristics that contribute to this monument's national importance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 53123 (accessed on 23/06/2020).

Edwards, B 2014. Mixed Mode Geophysical and Topographical Survey Report, Plora Burn, Tweed Valley. Archaeology Survey & Consulting, Manchester Metropolitan University.

RCAHMS 1967. An Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Peebleshire. Vol.I. HMSO, Edinburgh.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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