Ancient Monuments

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Range Castle, fort

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.0735 / 55°4'24"N

Longitude: -3.4322 / 3°25'55"W

OS Eastings: 308651

OS Northings: 576382

OS Grid: NY086763

Mapcode National: GBR 49GS.R3

Mapcode Global: WH6XR.7QWZ

Entry Name: Range Castle, fort

Scheduled Date: 4 August 1937

Last Amended: 7 November 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM658

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Dalton

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the remains of a multi-period hillfort, visible as a series of ramparts, ditches, counterscarps and a stone wall. The construction of the fort is likely to date from the late first millennium BC or early first millennium AD, but occupation may extend into the later first millennium AD, forming part of a wider pattern of later prehistoric defensive and domestic structures. It lies on the northernmost peak of a ridge on the W side of the valley of the River Annan, at 195m above sea level. The monument was first scheduled in 1937, but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains; the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The multivallate fort is irregular in shape and may exhibit an unfinished phase of construction as well as more than one phase of occupation. The outer enclosure measures a maximum of 130m N/S overall by about 120m transversely and covers the top of an un-named hill. To the SE, there is a short stretch of ditch that may represent an unfinished element to the fort. Within the largest enclosure are the remains of a smaller enclosure measuring 52m N/S by 40m transversely, within a rampart up to 1.1m high. The entrance, on the W, lines up with the entrance through the outer defences. Around the summit are the remains of another enclosure measuring 37m N/S by 25m transversely, within a rampart up to 3m wide and 0.4m high. There is no obvious entrance to this smallest enclosure.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is a well-preserved example of a large, multivallate hillfort, likely to date to from the late 1st millennium BC or early 1st millennium AD. Despite some erosion caused by rabbits and cattle, several lines of defence can be seen. As well as the substantial outer ramparts, rock-cut ditch and counterscarp, there are also traces of the ramparts of two smaller enclosures within the interior. It therefore seems likely that these represent several phases of construction and occupation; indeed, it is possible that occupation could extend into the post-Roman period. Given the site's current and historic use as pastureland, it is likely that archaeologically significant deposits relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the fort remain in situ. In addition, it is likely that deposits survive that could provide data relating to the later prehistoric environment.

The monument has considerable potential to enhance understanding of Iron-Age and possibly also early-medieval domestic, defensive and ritual activity. The complex remains at Range Castle represent the accumulated remains of repeated construction on and occupation of a single site and therefore have the potential to provide information relating to a relatively long period of time, including the transition to post-Roman times.

Contextual characteristics

This monument has the capacity to contribute towards a better understanding of forts and defended settlements and in particular the place of hillforts in the later prehistoric and early-medieval settlement pattern. The commanding location of Range Castle, overlooking the Annan valley, suggests that control of the landscape and visibility from within it were important to its builders. Its proximity to the similar fort of Moss Castle, located less than 500m to the SSE, enhances this significance. Moss Castle, another rare example of an unfinished fort, overlooks Range Castle and this may reflect either a potential hierarchy (if the sites are contemporary) or a change in social structure and economy and thus preferred settlement location (if the sites are sequential). The evidence clearly suggests that this strategic location was significant for a considerable time.

Information gained from the preservation and study of this site can be used to gain an insight into the wider knowledge of Iron-Age forts across Scotland. In eastern Dumfries and Galloway such forts may also provide evidence of native-Roman interaction, and it is possible that occupation at Range Castle extended into post-Roman (early-medieval) times too. As a potentially unfinished fort, however, Range Castle has the near-unique potential to enhance understanding of fort construction in the later prehistoric period, even without excavation. Unfinished forts are rare, and their distribution in Scotland is thought to be confined almost entirely to the NE; Range Castle is therefore well outside the core distribution.

Associative characteristics

The Ordnance Survey (OS) 1st edition map records the monument as 'Range Castle Camp (Supposed British)'. The OS 2nd and 4th edition maps record the monument as 'Range Castle (fort)'.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to inform us of a settlement type that characterises the wider Iron-Age defended domestic landscape, forming an intrinsic element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern along the Annan valley. The survival of marked field characteristics and its proximity to another well-preserved and unfinished fort enhance this potential. Multiple phases of occupation, possibly extending into the early-medieval period, mean this site has the potential to help us understand the poorly understood transition through Roman to post-Roman times. Domestic remains and artefacts from forts have the poten...

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as Range Castle, fort, NY07NE8.


Feachem R W 1963, A GUIDE TO PREHISTORIC SCOTLAND, London: Batsford, 117.



Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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