Ancient Monuments

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Hownam Rings, fort, settlement, stone row and linear earthwork

A Scheduled Monument in Kelso and District, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.4668 / 55°28'0"N

Longitude: -2.332 / 2°19'55"W

OS Eastings: 379104

OS Northings: 619269

OS Grid: NT791192

Mapcode National: GBR D547.X3

Mapcode Global: WH8YM.4VRF

Entry Name: Hownam Rings, fort, settlement, stone row and linear earthwork

Scheduled Date: 28 February 1962

Last Amended: 9 October 1995

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2199

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: palisaded settlement; Prehistoric ritual and funerary: stone row

Location: Hownam

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Kelso and District

Traditional County: Roxburghshire


The monument comprises a wide range of archaeological features dating to the first millennia BC and AD. Hownam Rings was part excavated in 1948 and it has been demonstrated that the site could have been occupied over about 700 years. The hilltop was initially enclosed by a timber palisade. Later this was replaced by a stone rampart which was subsequently remodelled and extended to create four lines of enclosure. An outwork on the E may belong to this period. Timber round-houses were built inside the fort, but also over its ramparts as these decayed. Native pottery and late third-century AD Roman pottery related to this phase of activity. Finally, a scooped homestead was built on the E edge of the fort.

To the SE of Hownam Rings is a line of 28 stones ('The Shearers') which extends for 110m from WNW to ESE across the plateau. Eight stones are upright and the remainder are recumbent. They probably form part of an ancient field dyke related to the prehistoric use of Hownam Rings. To the S, a stretch of linear earthwork runs towards Hownam Rings and is likely to be a boundary associated with Hownam Rings rather than a defensive work. The entire area around these sites has been extensively cultivated (date unknown) and a representative sample of these remains has also been included.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan and measures up to 480m from N-S by 360m transversely, to include Hownam Rings, 'The Shearers', associated field monuments and an area around in which traces of activity associated with their construction and use may survive, as marked in red on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because it comprises a diverse range of well-preserved, multi-period but associated features. Hownam Rings is famous as the 'type-site' for later prehistoric settlement sequences in southern Scotland, yet, in fact, it is not wholly understood and earlier (partial) excavations did not produce any absolute dates. The surrounding area has been cultivated from the Iron Age, if not before, and evidence for this and further structures may be sealed beneath extant cultivation remains. These features therefore have the potential to provide information about later prehistoric settlement sequences, dating, land-use and social structure.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monument is recorded in the RCAHMS as NT 71 NE 1, NT 71 NE 49 and NT 71 NE 50.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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