Ancient Monuments

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Hound Hill, cairn

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.0715 / 55°4'17"N

Longitude: -3.4491 / 3°26'56"W

OS Eastings: 307563

OS Northings: 576182

OS Grid: NY075761

Mapcode National: GBR 49CS.2T

Mapcode Global: WH5WL.ZSQH

Entry Name: Hound Hill, cairn

Scheduled Date: 7 November 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12117

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cairn (type uncertain)

Location: Dalton

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the remains of a large cairn, visible as a mound of stone and earth. The cairn is Bronze-Age, likely to date to the second millennium BC, and forms part of a wider pattern of early prehistoric ritual and funerary monuments. It lies on Holmains Moor, at 240m above sea level.

The cairn is nearly circular in shape and was disturbed during an antiquarian excavation in the 19th century. It measures 27m in diameter and 2.5m in maximum height and covers the summit of Hound Hill. A hollow in the middle of the cairn marks the location of a cist, from which the excavators recovered a jet button and human bones. A whetstone was found near the cairn in 1968.

The area to be scheduled is circular 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

Visible as a prominent turf-covered mound, the monument is a well-preserved example of a burial cairn, likely to date to the second millennium BC. Its condition indicates the potential for good preservation of archaeological remains within the cairn, despite antiquarian diggings before 1878. 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 cairn remain in situ. In addition, it is likely that deposits survive that could provide data relating to the prehistoric environment. The monument has considerable potential to enhance understanding of Bronze-Age ritual and funerary activity.

Contextual characteristics

We know of over 300 burial cairns in SW Scotland and at least 70 round cairns in this part of eastern Dumfries and Galloway. The majority are found on marginal or high ground between 150m and 300m above sea level and Hound Hill cairn is therefore a typical example. The commanding location of Hound Hill, overlooking the Solway and Nith estuaries, suggests that visual prominence was important to its builders. Hound Hill cairn is relatively large and insights may be gained from studies that consider it alongside smaller cairns, which form the majority. There are several smaller cairns and a possible Bronze-Age mortuary enclosure on Rockhall Moor, which lies immediately to the west of Holmains Moor. In addition, Hound Hill cairn lies just over 1km W of the Iron-Age forts of Range Castle and Moss Castle. Together, these monuments can provide insights into the nature of Bronze-Age funerary practices and the changes that took place within society over the final two millennia BC.

The survival of grave goods and an inhumation, as at Hound Hill, is unusual for SW Scotland. Information gained from this site can be used to enhance our understanding of Bronze-Age burial practices across Scotland.

Associative characteristics

The cairn is marked on the 1st edition of the Ordnance Survey map as 'Cairn (Supposed)' and on the second edition as 'Cairn'. The evidence for an excavation before 1878 also indicates an early awareness of the monument's antiquity.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular the nature of burial practices during the Bronze Age in SW Scotland. This potential is enhanced by the survival of marked field characteristics and the monument's proximity to other Bronze-Age ritual and funerary monuments. Funerary remains from burial cairns have the potential to tell us about wider prehistoric society, in particular ritual and religious practices. The old ground surface sealed by the cairn may provide information about the nature of the contemporary environment and the use prehistoric farmers made of it. The loss of this example would significantly impede our ability to understand the Bronze Age both in eastern Dumfries and Galloway and across Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the monument as Holmains Moor, cairn; cist; jet button, NY07NE6. The whetstone nearby is recorded as Hound Hill, whetstone, NY07NE13.


Anon. 1925, ?Donations to the Museum?, PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 59, 110.

Feachem R W 1963, A GUIDE TO PREHISTORIC SCOTLAND, London: Batsford, 74.



Yates M J 1984, BRONZE AGE CAIRNS IN DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY: AN INVENTORY AND DISCUSSION, Brit Archaeol Rep Brit Ser 132, 119-20, 230, No. WD54.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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