Ancient Monuments

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Holywood, cursus 1250m SSE of

A Scheduled Monument in Lochar, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.1001 / 55°6'0"N

Longitude: -3.6488 / 3°38'55"W

OS Eastings: 294892

OS Northings: 579650

OS Grid: NX948796

Mapcode National: GBR 29YG.VK

Mapcode Global: WH5WH.X2NJ

Entry Name: Holywood, cursus 1250m SSE of

Scheduled Date: 1 February 1979

Last Amended: 8 September 2003

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM4218

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cursus/bank barrow

Location: Holywood

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Lochar

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises a cursus monument of prehistoric date, visible as a cropmark on oblique aerial photographs. It was first scheduled in 1979. A recent survey carried out by RCAHMS has shown the scheduled area to be inadequate to cover all the archaeological remains. The present scheduling rectifies this.

The cursus is rectangular in shape with square terminals and measures 300m N-S, E-W it narrows from 40m at the S to 30m at the N. It is defined by a wide ditch, which is broken at several points by causeways. Within the cursus enclosure at the N end there is a ring ditch roughly 11m in diameter and two pit-like features; towards the S end there is a semi-circular ditched area containing two pit-like features and a rectangular enclosure.

The site was partially excavated in 1997, a trench 40m E-W by 45m N-S was opened at the northern terminal in order to provide sections of the cursus ditch and ring ditch. Some internal features and one of the ditch causeways were also examined. Preliminary indications suggest that the ring-ditch and other internal features probably predate the construction of the cursus.

Two areas cover the area to be protected, the areas being separated by the public road and its verges and hedgerows (which are excluded from the scheduled area). The northern area measuresa maximum of 105m along its long axis and a maximum of 75m along its short axis. The southern area measures a maximum of 260m along its long axis and a maximum of 95m along its short axis. Both areas include parts of the cursus monument, features within the cursus monument, and an area around the visible features in which remains associated with their use are likely to survive.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to contribute to an understanding of prehistoric settlement and economy. Its importance is increased by its proximity to other monuments of potentially contemporary date including another cursus to the north and a stone circle. These three sites are generally regarded as a single monument complex.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NX97NW 23.

Aerial photographs:


1995-52815 CN.

1995-C52941 CN.

1997-D16872 CN.


A29983 TR.


Brophy K 1999b, 'The cursus monuments of Scotland'. In Barclay A and Harding J eds. 1999, PATHWAYS AND CEREMONIES: THE CURSUS MONUMENTS OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND, Neolithic Studies Group Seminar Papers 4, Oxford, 120, 122.

Jones, B (1979 )

Jones B 1979, 'Aerial reconnaissance, Solway survey; Dumfries and Galloway 1977 to 1979', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT 1979, 3.


Thomas J 1998b, 'Holywood cursus monuments (Holywood parish), cursus monuments', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT 1998, 26-27.

Thomas J 1998d, 'Pict's Knowe, Holywood and Holm: Prehistoric Sites in the Dumfries Area', CURR ARCHAEOL 14, 4, 151-153.

Thomas J 1999, 'The Holywood cursus complex, Dumfries: an interim account 1997'. In Barclay A and Harding J eds. 1999, PATHWAYS AND CEREMONIES: THE CURSUS MONUMENTS OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND, Neolithic Studies Group Seminar Papers 4, Oxford, 107-15.

Thomas J 2000, 'The Identity of Place in Neolithic Britain: Examples from Southwest Scotland'. In Ritchie A ed. 2000, NEOLITHIC ORKNEY IN ITS EUROPEAN CONTEXT, McDonald Institute monograph, Cambridge, 81-6.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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