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Camp Hill, fort, 175m WSW of Bailliehill

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale East and Eskdale, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.2033 / 55°12'11"N

Longitude: -3.1705 / 3°10'13"W

OS Eastings: 325602

OS Northings: 590518

OS Grid: NY256905

Mapcode National: GBR 6898.DK

Mapcode Global: WH6X9.8GHY

Entry Name: Camp Hill, fort, 175m WSW of Bailliehill

Scheduled Date: 7 April 1937

Last Amended: 25 June 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM647

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Westerkirk

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale East and Eskdale

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the remains of a multi-phase fort or defended settlement, likely to date to the later prehistoric period and visible as a series of turf banks and ditches with associated remains such as house platforms. It lies between 220m and 240m above sea level on a small hill overlooking the confluence of the Black Esk and the White Esk into the River Esk. The W half of the site comprises very well-preserved earthworks, while later ploughing has removed most of the visible remains in the E half. 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 monument consists of multiple phases of construction and use. The earliest identified phase is a settlement comprising an oval area measuring around 78m NNE 'SSW by around 50m transversely, within a single stone rampart, now reduced to a stony bank up to around 4m in thickness. The second phase is represented by a short length of ditch on the W slope of the hill. It also appears to cut into the earlier rampart. This represents the only surviving section of a summit enclosure, the remainder of which has been obscured or destroyed by later developments on the site. The third phase is an oval enclosure measuring around 78m NNE-SSW by around 43m transversely with an entrance gap around 10m wide visible in the ESE. This follows the same line as the first phase enclosure except on the west, where it follows the line of the crest of the summit and overlies the rampart of the second phase. These successive phases of construction lie within a large enclosure encircling the summit of the hill. It measures around 143m NNE-SSW by around 114m transversely and is bounded by a double bank with a ditch between. Within the enclosures on the site are the visible remains of at least 35 timber roundhouses. Of these many appear to have been built on platforms and several appear to be of the ring-ditch form.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in plan, to include the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area specifically excludes the above-ground elements of the sections of post-and-wire fences and the drystone dykes that cross the scheduled area, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

This is a well-preserved example of a later prehistoric fort or defended settlement, displaying multiple phases of construction and use. The W half of the site is clearly visible as prominent upstanding remains while it is largely sub-surface remains that survive on the E side. The form and size of the monument suggests it represents the remains of a well-defended and significant settlement site, possibly of Iron-Age date, which underwent subsequent redesign on at least two occasions. It is defended by a series of ramparts and ditches. These include one substantial work that appears to encircle the entire summit of the hill. There is a large amount of visible evidence in the interior for the domestic occupation of the site in the form of house stances and further remains undoubtedly survive as buried deposits. The individual elements of its design, in the form of the defences and the internal structures, are similar to other prehistoric forts and enclosures in the area. However, the well-preserved condition of the site, its large scale and the multiple phases of construction and use that can clearly be seen make this example considerably more impressive.

Sufficient remains survive to define accurately the course of the defences in areas where later farmers have ploughed the upstanding elements, and there is high potential for the preservation of archaeological deposits relating to the defensive circuit and settlement within the interior. Potential also exists for the survival of buried land surfaces beneath the banks and house stances and for environmental evidence to survive within these surfaces and within the fills of the ditches. These can provide information about the environment when the site was constructed, used and abandoned. The upstanding banks may contain evidence of their construction, which could help inform our understanding of how the defences were built.

The monument therefore has the potential to reveal valuable information about the character of late prehistoric fortifications and potentially local variations in domestic architecture and building from the remains of structures surviving in the interior.

Contextual characteristics

Forts and defended settlements were built from at least the end of the late Bronze Age (around 800 BC) until probably the end of the early medieval period (around 1000 AD). Previous excavation and research has indicated that the majority of forts date to the Iron-Age, ranging from the mid- to late 1st millennium BC. Iron-Age forts occur widely throughout eastern Dumfries and Galloway, tending to occur on the crests of hills around 250m above sea level. The repeated phases of construction and use on this site present an important opportunity to assess the occupation of this site and the surrounding area over an extensive period.

This monument lies on the summit of Camp Hill, overlooking Mill Burn 230m to the west and the confluence of the Black Esk and White Esk into the River Esk, which lies 400m to the north-west. The confluence of the rivers may have been a driving factor in the choice of this site for such a substantial fort, as rivers and their valleys were the primary routes through the landscape for travel and this location allows the fort to observe and control the meeting point of three such routes. The site has long views in all directions, which may have factored in its placement and could imply that the occupants of the fort had control over a large stretch of the river valley itself.

The monument occupies a rich prehistoric landscape, with other defended and undefended settlements all along the River Esk and with numerous other enclosures within a few kilometres of this example. These include an unenclosed settlement around 600m to the south-west and settlements around 490m east, 980m west, 1120m NNW and 1950m north-east of this example. The highly significant prehistoric fort and landscape of Castle O'er also lies less than 3km to the north-west and it is likely that the occupants of Camp Hill had some relationship with the builders and occupants there. The site has the capacity to contribute towards a better understanding of the construction and position in the landscape of prehistoric forts and enclosures in this area through comparison with similar sites. The monument may also supply important information on the interaction between the occupants of the area and the incoming Romans, who arrived in Scotland in the 1st century AD at a time when many sites of this type were still in use. The monument also complements other types of prehistoric settlement sites identified elsewhere in Eskdale, to provide a fuller picture of how such sites are positioned within the landscape, as well as provide enhanced contexts for the understanding of Iron-Age economy and structure of society.

Associative characteristics

The Ordnance Survey 1st Edition mapping from the 1860s marks this site as a 'Fort'. This suggests an awareness of the site as a historical place and an attachment of value.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular Iron-Age society, the design and construction of forts and the nature of Iron-Age domestic and defensive practice. Domestic remains and artefacts from a well-preserved and complex settlement such as this have the potential to tell us about wider society at the time, its architecture, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contacts with. It may also provide us with evidence of native-Roman interaction. Archaeological deposits preserved beneath the ramparts and in the interior of the monument may provide information about the nature of the contemporary environment and the use prehistoric farmers made of it. While spatial analysis of sites may inform our understanding of patterns of landholding and the expansion of settlement. The loss of this site would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape both in eastern Dumfries and Galloway and across Scotland, as well as our knowledge of Iron-Age and social structure, economy, and building practices.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NY29SE 16. Dumfries and Galloway SMR record the site as MDG 7700.


RCAHMS, 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, Edinburgh: RCAHMS, 76, 79, 82-83, 89-93, 130, 153, 158, 163-167, 298, 319.

Kokeza, N 2008, Later Prehistoric Enclosed Site Evidence of Southern Scotland, BAR Brit Ser 469, 204.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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