Ancient Monuments

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Cowden Hill, enclosure and round-houses

A Scheduled Monument in Howe of Fife and Tay Coast, Fife

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Latitude: 56.3246 / 56°19'28"N

Longitude: -3.1879 / 3°11'16"W

OS Eastings: 326633

OS Northings: 715327

OS Grid: NO266153

Mapcode National: GBR 28.5HRM

Mapcode Global: WH6QW.0979

Entry Name: Cowden Hill, enclosure and round-houses

Scheduled Date: 2 March 2004

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11082

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: homestead

Location: Abdie

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: Howe of Fife and Tay Coast

Traditional County: Fife


The monument comprises a sub-rectangular enclosure on the summit of Cowden Hill, defined by a broad low bank, within which are the remains of two circular structures and, outwith and to the S of the enclosure, a single ditch and bank. Such monuments are settlements, probably of Iron Age date.

The enclosure is sub-rectangular on plan measuring a maximum of 38m NE-SW to the outer edge of the bank. The bank is straight on three sides but on its southern side, it bows outward slightly. Along its shorter sides, the eastern bank measures 35m and the western bank measures 31m. The bank stands to maximum height of 0.6m and varies from 2.5m to 5m in width. Large stone blocks fringe the outer face of the bank for much of its perimeter. The inner face of the bank is also lined with stones in places. A 3m wide gap in the bank on the S side may mark the entrance. In the interior, both round-houses consist of a penannular bank, standing in each case to approximately 0.4m high; the larger measures 16m in diameter, the smaller11m. They are less than 2m apart. Both structures have entrances facing S, aligned on the putative entrance in the enclosure bank. The SE corner of the enclosure is overlain by a steep-sided irregular cairn of probable modern date. The easiest approach to the enclosure is from the south and at a distance of 45m from the enclosure this relatively low gradient is blocked by a 75m long ditch. There are slight traces of a bank on the uphill side and a more distinct bank runs along the outer lip of the ditch. The ditch is no more than 1m deep but provides a significant increase in gradient and thus a forms an effective barrier across the entire width of the gentler southern approach to the summit. The whole of the summit, with the possible exception of the interior of the enclosure, has been cultivated in the past as shown by relict rig. The rig measures approximately 4m wide. It is aligned broadly NE-SW and a subtle reverse-S layout is detectable.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, with a maximum dimension of 133m NNW-SSE by 139m ENE-WSW, to include the whole of the enclosure, the ditch and bank to the S and an area between and around the features in which evidence relating to the construction and use of the enclosure may survive, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract. The is bounded by a modern post and wire fence on the N, E and W which is excluded from this scheduling to allow for its maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a rare example of an upstanding enclosed, round-house settlement. The importance of the monument is enhanced by lack of evidence for recent disturbance and it retains a considerable potential to provide important information about high altitude settlement of probable prehistoric date.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as N021NE 28. It is not listed in the RCAHMS Inventory for Fife (RCAHMS 1933). The site is listed in the Fife Sites and Monuments Record as N021NE 28.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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