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Wester Craigend, dun 300m west of

A Scheduled Monument in Stirling West, Stirling

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Latitude: 56.0925 / 56°5'32"N

Longitude: -3.9821 / 3°58'55"W

OS Eastings: 276777

OS Northings: 690622

OS Grid: NS767906

Mapcode National: GBR 19.N5CT

Mapcode Global: WH4PC.S4Y8

Entry Name: Wester Craigend, dun 300m W of

Scheduled Date: 14 August 1961

Last Amended: 25 June 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2121

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: dun

Location: St Ninians

County: Stirling

Electoral Ward: Stirling West

Traditional County: Stirlingshire


The monument comprises the earth and stonework remains of a later prehistoric enclosed settlement known as a dun and usually interpreted as a defended homestead. The monument is in an elevated position, situated on a rocky knoll, on the edge of a N-facing scarp slope, at around 120m above sea level. The monument was first scheduled in 1961; it is being rescheduled to improve the associated documentation and the accuracy of the mapped polygon.

The visible extent of the monument is teardrop-shaped in plan, defined by the upstanding fragmentary remains of the enclosing drystone wall, visible up to two courses in height. The wall measures between 2.4 and 3m in width with facing stones clearly visible on the external S and W side. The wall is less clear on the N side where the knoll is defined by the sheer cliff of the escarpment. A tree throw on the W side of the monument reveals the wall's rubble core.

The interior of the monument measures about 18m from WNW to ESE by about 14m transversely, slopes downhill to the south and is featureless. A gap in the enclosing wall, measuring approximately 1m in extent, is located in the ESE and may represent the original entrance. A footpath, measuring less than 1m in width, crosses the monument from east to west.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which evidence relating to their creation and use may survive, 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 good example of an Iron-Age enclosed site, a small defensive settlement utilising and augmenting a naturally defensive situation, and retains marked field remains. The enclosing drystone wall, with a rubble core, is clearly visible on the S half of the monument, where the facing stones can be seen, and survives elsewhere as fragmented lengths of earthwork. It is likely that this wall overlies buried soils that could contain information relating to the natural environment, and associated land use practices, within which the monument was constructed.

The upstanding and below-ground archaeological features also have the potential to inform our knowledge of the architecture of the enclosing wall, associated outworks and any associated structures and their function. Excavations at similar monuments have shown how negative features, such as post holes and pits, can contain archaeologically significant deposits and important artefactual evidence relating to the use of the monument, the social, ritual and economic life of any occupants and the final phase of use and eventual abandonment.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located on a ridge of dolerite, known as Sauchie Craig, and part of an intrusion of igneous rock that extends in a series of sills for about 8 miles. Around 180m to the north is the Bannock Burn, while 110m to the south is the Moor Burn. At Sauchie Craig the scarp slope of the ridge faces north with the scarp to the south. The dun is constructed to utilise and augment a rocky knoll of the ridge. There are particularly clear views to the north and south. This location is ideally suited to restrict or control access, including for defence. However, the lack of water supply within the interior would suggest that the builders did not anticipate any defensive action of long duration. It is also visually impressive and all these factors may have been important to reflect status and wealth.

The ridge forms a natural dyke in the area and a number of contemporary and comparative sites cluster around it to make use of the naturally defensive terrain: 265m NNW is a second dun and associated outworks while 690m ENE is another dun; 745m WNW are the remains of a hut circle, situated on a rocky knoll; 1180m north is Gillies Hill, a multivallate fort with stone-faced ramparts and within which evidence of occupation was revealed through trial trenching in 1984; 1375m SSW is another multivallate fort; 1520m WNW is a homestead and associated enclosure; and 1730m WNW is another dun, of similar construction, where excavations in 1955 revealed evidence of occupation in the 1st or early 2nd century AD, including Roman glass fragments.

The dun therefore belongs to a significant group of Iron-Age monuments in the immediate area, all occupying commanding positions and all defensible. They are almost all curvilinear in plan, though examples with sub-rectangular or sub-triangular ground plans are known, but vary in extent and classification. The study and comparison of these sites has the potential to inform our understanding of the nature of any relationships between them, their functions, the number of phases of use and their duration and the patterns of their distribution, as well real or potential differences in classification. Artefact assemblages from the few excavated examples have been small, but these include culturally significant finds, such as Roman material. The study of any associated artefacts therefore has an inherent capacity to further our knowledge of the interaction between indigenous groups and incomers to the area, such as the Romans.

The monument belongs to a class recognised across Scotland through its drystone construction, and therefore relates to brochs, forts and stone roundhouses (indeed, the distinction drawn between large duns and small forts is only based on size, following the RCAHMS definition developed in the 1970s). A well studied, though varied, group lies in Argyll, where the distribution appears to be largely coastal, though whether this is a function of differential survival is unclear, and rarely situated above around 180m above sea level. The smaller examples may have represented individual, roofed structures, and examples of fittings for doors are present at the entrances to several. Larger examples may have been enclosures surrounding interiors containing independent structures.

The presence of associated outworks, often seeming to relate to extra defence on more easily accessible sides, and other features out with the monument interior, are known from several other comparative sites across Scotland. Elsewhere, archaeologists interpret these sites as forming the core of relatively small, defended farming settlements, other elements of which may be expected to survive in the immediate vicinity. There is also evidence to suggest the use of sites prior to the construction of the dun, and traces of earlier timber structures have been noted beneath in some cases, as well as later reuse. This monument has the potential to further inform and refine these interpretations and contribute to the body of knowledge on this monument type and function as well as inform ongoing debate as to the relationships between and specific functions of duns, brochs, forts and stone roundhouses.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent capacity to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular later prehistoric settlement and defensive sites. This monument specifically has a high 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 and around Sauchie Craig. Domestic remains and artefacts from duns have the potential not only to tell us about prehistoric architecture, but also about wider society, how people lived, where they came from, who they had contacts with, and may offer an insight into the function of such sites. The old ground surfaces sealed by the enclosing wall may provide information about the nature of the contemporary environment and the use prehistoric farmers made of it. Spatial analysis of sites may inform our understanding of patterns of landholding and the expansion of settlement. The loss or damage of the monument would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape, both within central Scotland and across the country, and diminish its potential to contribute to our knowledge of Iron-Age social structure, economy and building practices.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record this site as Wester Craigend Dun with the number NS79SE 51. The monument is site no. 836 within Stirling Council Sites and Monuments Record. Copies of these reports are appended.

The monument is within a Site of Special Scientific Interest known as Sauchie Craig Wood, and is currently located within forestry.


Davies, M 2006. An Archaeological Analysis of Later Prehistoric Settlement and Society in Perthshire and Stirlingshire, unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Durham.

Harding, D 1997, 'Forts, Duns, Brochs and Crannogs: Iron Age Settlements in Argyll', in Ritchie, G (ed), The Archaeology of Argyll. RCAHMS: Edinburgh.

Macinnes, L 1984, Brochs and the Roman occupation of lowland Scotland, Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 114, 235-50.

Macinnes, L 1989 'Baubles, Bangles and Beads: Trade and Exchange in Roman Scotland' in Barrett J C, Fitzpatrick A and Macinnes L, (eds) , Barbarians and Romans in North-West Europe from the later Republic to late Antiquity. BAR International Series 471, 108-16.

Main, L et al 1998 'Excavation of a timber round-house and broch at the Fairy Knowe, Buchlyvie, Stirlingshire, 1975-8', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 128, 293-417.

RCAHMS 1979. The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Stirling District, Central Region, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Scotland Series no 7, Edinburgh, 21, No. 166.

RCAHMS 1963. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Stirlingshire: An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments, 2v, Edinburgh, 82, No. 87.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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