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Holywood,cursus,linear earthwork,pit alignment & enclosures 975m south east of

A Scheduled Monument in Lochar, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.1047 / 55°6'16"N

Longitude: -3.6463 / 3°38'46"W

OS Eastings: 295064

OS Northings: 580156

OS Grid: NX950801

Mapcode National: GBR 29ZD.DX

Mapcode Global: WH5W9.YYVK

Entry Name: Holywood,cursus,linear earthwork,pit alignment & enclosures 975m SE of

Scheduled Date: 1 February 1979

Last Amended: 8 September 2003

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM4217

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: enclosure (domestic or defensive); Prehistoric ritual and funera

Location: Holywood

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Lochar

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


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

The cursus monument lies N of the dismantled Dumfries-Moniaive railway. It is defined by a ditch; its sides are parallel with rounded terminals. It measures c.350m from N-S and 30m due E/W. Within the northern part there are one or more lines of postholes running parallel with and inside the ditch. Further south there are, within the cursus enclosure, two posthole alignments, two possible pit-like features and a proable ring-ditch.

Small parts of the cursus were excavated in 1997. Two trenches were opened: one over the northern terminal to investigate sections of the ditch as well as some internal features, the other further south, to invesigate a possible entrance. Preliminary indications suggest that the ditch was recut at least once and the postholes may represent an earlier post-defined cursus or some sort of revetment structure, where as the posthole alignments may have been a facade or screen used to partially close off the entrance.

To the E of the cursus, aerial photography has revealed a linear earthwork, pit alignment and possible enclosures.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them, within which related material is likely to survive. It is irregular in shape and measures 485m from its northernmost point to its southernmost point and 165m due E/W. A small area of woodland that runs across the site containing a mixture of mature beech and oak trees is included in the schedule as archaeological remains may survive between and beneath the root plates.

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 close proximity to other monuments of potentially contemporary date including another cursus to the south and a stone circle. These three sites are generally regarded as a single monument complex. The other archaeological remains within the scheduled area may represent activity predating the cursus or subsequent to it, and have the potential to enhance considerably our understanding of the development of monument complexes.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NX98SE 42.

Aerial photographs:


1995-C52943 CN.

1997-D16866 CN.

1997-D16880 CN.



Brophy K 1999b, 'THE CURSUS MONUMENTS OF SCOTLAND', in A Barclay and J Harding eds., Pathways and ceremonies: the cursus monument of Britain and Ireland,, Neolithic Studies Group Seminar Papers 4, Oxford, 120, 122.

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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