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Whitcastle Hill and Todshaw Hill, forts, earthworks, linear earthworks

A Scheduled Monument in Hawick and Hermitage, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.4018 / 55°24'6"N

Longitude: -2.8805 / 2°52'49"W

OS Eastings: 344335

OS Northings: 612340

OS Grid: NT443123

Mapcode National: GBR 85BZ.5D

Mapcode Global: WH7XL.QHJ7

Entry Name: Whitcastle Hill and Todshaw Hill, forts, earthworks, linear earthworks

Scheduled Date: 7 November 1961

Last Amended: 26 April 1993

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2150

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: fort (includes hill and promontory fort)

Location: Roberton

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Hawick and Hermitage

Traditional County: Roxburghshire


865 Fort, Enclosed Settlements and Linear Earthworks, Whitcastle Hill:

The monument is made up of a group of structures, comprising a fort and six small earthworks, all but one of which are in a comparatively good state of preservation. The site is a narrow ridge lying NE and SW which, at a height of c 300m OD dominates the broken tableland between the Borthwick Water on the N and the Newmill Burn on the S and commands an extensive view in all directions. The fort and four of the earthworks are crowded together on the flattish top of the ridge while the other two earthworks are situated on the SE flank and are contiguous.

The fort (No 1 on the RCAHMS plan) occupies the summit at the SW end of the ridge. Sub-oval in shape, it measures c 65m from NE to SW by c 62m transversely within double ramparts and a medial ditch, and has a single entrance at the SW apex. The inner rampart has been drawn round the margin of the summit-area, while the ditch and outer rampart enclose the base of the ridge on three sides.

For the most part the inner rampart has been entirely destroyed, but slight traces of it survive on either side of the entrance and in the centres of the NW and SE sides. Constructed of heaped earth and rock rubble, it has been strengthened, where possible, by trimming the flanks of the ridge to form a continuous scarp from the crest of the rampart to the bottom of the ditch.

The ditch, which is rock-cut is completely silted up on the SE, but otherwise varies in width from 3.5m to c 6m and has a maximum depth of c 2.5m below the crest of the outer rampart. The outer rampart is also of dump construction, being formed of upcast from the ditch; it is not more than 0.6m high and has been obliterated on the NE and SE sides.

Beyond the defences the ground falls sharply on the SE and more gently on the NW and SW. The entrance passage on the latter side is c 6m wide between the ditch terminals and narrows to 2.4m where it passes through the inner rampart. It leads into a slightly excavated court which is joined at the N end to a semi-oval scoop. Hill suggests a late Iron Age date.

Three of the earthworks (No. 4, 6, and 7) are patently related, each consisting of a small curvilinear enclosure surrounded by two rubble banks, the material for which has been derived from a medial ditch, and possessing only a single entrance. No 4 measures internally 32m from E to W by 21m transversely, and the entrance, which is on the E side, is 1.6m wide.

The inner bank is well preserved, standing up to c 1.1m above the interior: like the inner rampart of the fort it has been emphasised on the N side by scarping the natural slope of the ridge. The ditch is rock-cut and averages c 6.1m wide, while the outer bank is c 3m thick on the N side; on the E and S this bank has been levelled by later cultivation, and at the W apex it is replaced by a field boundary of no great age. The interior is featureless.

No 6 is only a little over half the size of No 4, measuring 15.2m by 13.4m internally. The inner bank is not more than 0.6m high and the ditch, which averages 5.5m wide, is only a few centimetres deep. The outer bank has been destroyed by cultivation on the SW side but is clearly defined on the N; on the NE it merges with the outer bank of the adjacent earthwork (7). Apart from a slight hollowing of the floor in the NE half, the interior is featureless.

No 7 is roughly the same size as No 4 measuring 31m by 24m internally, and has an entrance, 1.8m wide, on the NE. The inner bank stands 0.3m high internally and up to 1.7m above the present bottom of the ditch, while the outer bank stands up to 1.1m above the ditch and is at most 0.8m high externally. The interior contains no sign of structures, but is divided into two unequal parts by a curved mound which appears to be a natural formation. It is impossible to tell whether this earthwork was built before or after No 6 since the junction between their outer banks is effected smoothly and only excavation could determine their relationship.

The three remaining earthworks (2, 3 and 5) are all rectilinear. No 2 which measures 18.5m by 21.3m, is a quasi-rectangular enclosure surrounded by a bank up to 0.8m high and with an external quarry-ditch on the NW side. A low bank divides the interior into two compartments which do not communicate directly with one another.

The higher, or NW compartment has an entrance on the SE opening into an excavated L-shaped court, while the SE compartment, which is scooped throughout, was presumably entered from the SE where the enclosure wall has been obliterated. The significant feature of this earthwork is that it is clearly later in date than the adjacent fort. Not only does its SW side overlie the site of the outer rampart of the fort, but the earthwork ditch on the NW cuts across the line of this rampart to join the fort ditch.

No 3, situated midway between the fort and earthwork No 4, is a simple rectangular enclosure surrounded by a bank and external quarry-ditch and measuring 21.3m by 17.4m internally. The bank is only a few centimetres high and the ditch has been obliterated on both the short sides. An entrance on the SE 1.5m wide, leads into a slightly excavated forecourt, but there are again no traces of any internal buildings.

The last earthwork (5), which occupies the space between No 4 and the SE shoulder of the ridge, has been almost completely destroyed by cultivation; all that remains is a shallow scoop measuring 24.4m from NE to SW by some 19.8m transversely.

RCAHMS suggested that it was possible that the fort was the parent structure and that three of the earthworks represent later and successive expansions occurring in the same occupational phase. Earthwork No 3, whose simple form suggests that it was probably a stock-enclosure, may likewise belong to this phase; while No 2, on the other hand, is evidently later in date since it overrides the outer rampart of the fort. Hill suggests that the enclosures are 'homesteads' of the Late Iron Age or Romano-British period.

Round the base of the ridge on the NW, NE and SE sides there is a linear earthwork consisting of a ditch averaging 3m wide and 0.6m deep and a bank 0.5m high which is inside the ditch on the NW and SE and outside it on the NE. At one point on the NW side the bottom of the ditch is 2m in below the crest of the bank, but this is apparently due to re-use of the ditch as a roadway. There is a well-defined entrance, 3m wide, 18m NE of the E corner, while a similar earthwork branches off from this corner and its ditch can be traced eastwards for 180m.

At the W corner the main earthwork returns SE for a few yards as though to link up the with the S corner and so to enclose the ridge completely, but there is no further sign of it on this side. It is uncertain whether this linear earthwork is coeval with the structures already described.

On the one hand it is indistinguishable in construction from comparatively recent agricultural boundaries, and air-photographs show that the cultivation system responsible for the partial obliteration of earthworks Nos 4 to 7 does conform to this boundary.

902 Fort and Settlement:

Hill suggests that this earthwork is the fragmentary remains of a settlement apparently overlying an earlier ridge fort. The fort is bounded on the SW and SE by a scarp 1.2m in average height. The NW side is partly delineated by a spread bank 1.1m high externally and 0.3m high internally. It measures c 30m NW-SE by c 86m transversely.

Over the N portion of the fort lies the settlement; it measures c 40m SW-NE by 60m transversely. There are hollows and scoops within it which may be the remains of houses. Hill suggests that the earlier element may be Late Bronze Age/Early Pre-Roman Iron Age.

863 Fort 1, Todshaw Hill:

This fort lies on a ridge 145m S of No 864. The ridge develops from level ground on the NE and runs SW to end in a small rocky bluff; its NW side falls evenly away, but on the SE and S sides it widens somewhat before merging with the general slope of the hillside. The fort, which measures 91m in overall length from NE to SW by 72m in greatest breadth, lies chiefly on the ridge itself and on the bluff, but a part of the southerly extension has also been taken in, with an unusual effect on the effect on the outline of the ramparts in the SSW sector.

The ramparts are three in number and of earthen construction. All appear to be contemporary. The inner one encloses an area of irregular shape determined by the lie of the ground and measuring 67m in length by 38m in greatest breadth. The entrance, 3m in width, is near the SW end of the NW side, and there is another gap 2.4m in width, just S of the bluff which was probably broken through at no very distant date to permit the cultivation of the interior.

On the bluff where it is best preserved the rampart is spread to a breadth of 7.3m; it is only a few centimetres high on its inner face, but stands 1.8m above the bottom of the rock-cut ditch which lies outside it. The ditch is 2.7m wide. The medial rampart is 7.9m broad where it crosses the bluff, stands 1.2m above the bottom of both the inner and outer ditches, and is interrupted NW of the bluff by an entrance corresponding with the one in the inner rampart.

It runs along the NW slope of the ridge about half-way down it, and where the slope steepens at the NE end it fades into it and loses its identity. SE of the bluff it is interrupted for a length of 21.3m by cultivation; thereafter it flanks the SE slope and dies out on reaching the NE end of the fort much as on the NW side. The ditch outside the medial rampart is 2.4m in width.

The outer rampart is 4.9m broad and stands 0.9m above the bottom of the ditch, but is only a few centimetres high on its outer face. It follows a course conforming with that of the medial one, being likewise interrupted on the SE by cultivation, for a length of about 35m and on the NW by the entrance which leads obliquely through all three ramparts. At the NE end of the fort both sides of the outer rampart fade into ridge as do those of the medial one.

In view of the elaborate nature of the rest of the defences, the absence of banks and ditches crossing the ridge outside the inner bank suggests either that the formidable task of cutting through the solid rock of the ridge was left to the last and ultimately never done at all, or that it was avoided by the use of a heaped bank or a palisade all traces of which have been obliterated. In the interior there are house stances. Hill places the fort, which he suggests may be of more than one period, in the Middle Iron Age.

864 Fort 2, Todshaw Hill:

A ridge fort is situated on the N ridge of Todshaw hill. A single rampart encloses an area 85m long from NE to SW by 40m wide; (it is a little more than a terrace for most of its length) may be close to the original. At the NE end there is an entrance-gap, on the N of which is a trace of an outer ditch. A secondary gap occurs in the SW end and a long breach has been made by the plough on the NW side.

Within there are at least 9 scooped areas in the form of circles, c 12m in diameter, which are the sites of huts. Hill has noted a second time of vallation to the SW, cutting off the approach along the ridge towards the fort; he suggests the fort is Late Bronze Age/Early Pre-Roman Iron Age.

877 Settlement, The Clints:

This defended settlement occupies a rocky knoll 91m below and 640m SE of the summit of Whitcastle Hill. Oval on plan, it measures 40m from NE to SW by 32m transversely within a single bank and external ditch. The bank, which was drawn round the margin of the summit-area, has been formed of upcast from the ditch but is now in a wasted condition, while the ditch, encompassing the base of the knoll, is largely filled in. There is a well-defined entrance at the NE apex, but the interior contains no sign of structures.

878 Settlement, Whitcastle Sike:

An oval knoll of rock lies in the course of an unnamed tributary of the Newmill Burn at a distance of 170m S of the summit of Whitcastle Hill, the stream, running closely round its W side from N to S. The knoll has been banked round to form a defended settlement 32m long from E to W and 27m wide, resembling the Clints (No 877), which is 240m distant to the E. The low bank is fragmentary with no definite entrance-gap, and an external ditch can be seen on the SE side.

To the E, Wand N of Whitcastle Hill are the remains of linear earthworks, some possibly associated with the forts and settlement, others clearly related to the medieval ridge and furrow cultivation traces which cover much of the area. The area to be scheduled includes a sample of these.

The monument is potentially one of the most archaeologically valuable sites in S Scotland. The existence of so many sites in such a small area implies both considerable chronological depth, and the interaction of a number of contemporary settlements.

Although some damage has been caused by medieval agriculture that recent aerial photographs show that even the slight remains of the stances of timber houses survive. Where sites are of more than one phase valuable stratigraphic relationships between settlement type will survive. A very important opportunity to further our understanding of late Bronze Age/Iron Age settlement survives here.

An area measuring a maximum of 1040m NE-SW by 740m transversely, to include the area in which the forts, settlements and most of later cultivation remains lie, is proposed for scheduling. The monument is of national importance to the theme of the development of late Bronze Age settlement and defence. In addition an important fragment of the pre-improvement agricultural landscape is preserved here; this is of national importance to the theme of pre-improvement agriculture.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance to the theme of the development of later Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement and defence. In addition an important fragment of the pre-improvement agricultural landscape is preserved which is of national importance to the theme of pre-improvement agriculture.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland


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Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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