Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Chancefield Wood earthworks, south east of Chancefield

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

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Latitude: 56.2577 / 56°15'27"N

Longitude: -3.2376 / 3°14'15"W

OS Eastings: 323426

OS Northings: 707930

OS Grid: NO234079

Mapcode National: GBR 26.9QMF

Mapcode Global: WH6R1.7ZJ5

Entry Name: Chancefield Wood earthworks, SE of Chancefield

Scheduled Date: 29 June 2004

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11013

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: ditch (non-defensive)

Location: Falkland

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: Howe of Fife and Tay Coast

Traditional County: Fife


The monument consists of an extensive group of V-shaped ditches cut into ground that slopes from SE to NW. The ditches in general are aligned SE-NW but, on plan, converge slightly as they progress downslope.

The ditches are first recorded on an estate plan of the mid-eighteenth century in which they are recorded as having a more extensive and a more convergent ground-plan. It is obvious from this document that the original function was unknown to its author. Other documentary and place-name evidence indicates that the ditches were in use at least in the late sixteenth century. The original purpose for construction is not known but circumstantial evidence points to their use in the large-scale management of deer for export and hunting.

The ditches are located in a triangular tract of land within a recently felled conifer plantation. On plan, the ditches, and the steeply tapering ridges between them, form a complex arrangement of steep-sided V-cut features that occasionally coalesce and diverge. Although the soil profile consists of deep topsoil overlying unconsolidated colluvium, the ditches have been cut to depths in excess of 3m and have been, in places, cut through into underlying rock. In profile, throughout much of their lengths, the ditches have been cut so steeply that for anyone walking down the line of the ditch, lateral movement is extremely limited and egress, out of the ditch via the steep side-walls, is extremely difficult. To the N, a metalled forestry track crosses two of the ditches towards their NW ends; further features, possibly forming a small enclosure, lie in woodland to the N of this track towards its NW end.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan with a maximum dimension of 340m from its westernmost point to its easternmost, and 116m N-S to include the ditches and other related surface features as marked in red on the accompanying map extract. The roughly triangular area is bounded on the east and south by post-and-wire fences. Along the eastern half of the northern boundary, the scheduled area abuts a metalled track. An electricity transmission line runs within the area and parallel to the southern boundary. In its western half, the scheduled area expands northwards to include various surface features between the track and the southern bank of the Arraty Burn. All components of existing fences, the upper 30cm of the forestry track close to the northern boundary and the electricity transmission line poles, are all excluded from this scheduling to allow for their maintenance. The southern bank of the Arraty Burn, against which the northern border to the scheduled area abuts in the NW part of the scheduled area, is also excluded from this scheduling to allow for its maintenance

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as an extremely rare example of early deer management by a lordly estate. The importance of the monument is enhanced by documentary and place-name evidence, offering further evidence for its use as a tool for the management of deer. It is likely that the ditch complex was used in the selection of live deer for hunting, possibly with associations to contemporary Scottish royalty, within the estate and for the export of live deer to other estates.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



It is recorded by RCAHMS as N020NW 8.


Miller Lt Col 1857, 'An inquiry respecting the site of the Battle of Mons Grampius', ARCHAEOLOGIA SCOTICA 4, 36.

Crawford O G S 1949, Topography of Roman Scotland north of the Antonine Wall, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 146.



Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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