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Rosshall Mains, enclosure 220m west of

A Scheduled Monument in Paisley Northeast and Ralston, Renfrewshire

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Latitude: 55.8383 / 55°50'17"N

Longitude: -4.3865 / 4°23'11"W

OS Eastings: 250646

OS Northings: 663140

OS Grid: NS506631

Mapcode National: GBR 3L.5CWF

Mapcode Global: WH3P6.LJD4

Entry Name: Rosshall Mains, enclosure 220m W of

Scheduled Date: 11 February 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12875

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: enclosure (domestic or defensive)

Location: Paisley

County: Renfrewshire

Electoral Ward: Paisley Northeast and Ralston

Traditional County: Renfrewshire


The monument comprises an enclosure, visible from the air as a circular cropmark and dating probably to the later prehistoric period. The monument is located on a slight S facing slope at around 25m above sea level and around 220m N of the White Cart Water.

Cropmarks represent negative archaeological features, the fills of which retain more moisture than the surrounding subsoil, resulting in enhanced growth of the crops above. The visible traces of the enclosure represent the remains of a circular ditch. The enclosure measures around 57m in diameter and the ditch is around 2m wide. A clearly defined entrance, about 9m wide, is located on the WSW side of the monument.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan to include the visible remains of the monument, as well as an area around it within which evidence relating to its construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying plan. Specifically excluded from the scheduling to allow for maintenance are the above-ground elements of the post-and-wire fence located on the W side of the monument.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is visible as a well-defined cropmark within cultivated land, visible on aerial photographs taken in 1957. Transcription of these photographs clearly shows a circular area enclosed by a single ditch with one entrance. It is probable that the creation of the ditch formed a bank of upcast, most likely situated within the circuit of the ditch. The topographical location of the monument, together with its relatively insubstantial single ditch, indicate that the enclosure was unlikely to have been primarily defensive. No internal features are apparent on the aerial photographs. The single appearance of the cropmark in 1957 may indicate that the feature is deeply buried with a potential for internal features preserved beneath a thick layer of colluvium. Based on its form and size, the monument is interpreted as an enclosure of later prehistoric date and is probably an enclosed domestic site such as a settlement or stock enclosure.

The clarity of the cropmark and the potential depth of any associated features beneath the topsoil indicate the potential for a high level of survival of archaeological deposits, including the remains of structures, and artefact and ecofact assemblages, on and around the site. Cut features, such as the ditch, are likely to preserve archaeologically significant deposits within their fill. These features have the potential to enhance our understanding of the construction and use of the monument, and, if it was a settlement, to provide information on domestic architecture and the activities which took place in the settlement. They also have the capacity to inform our understanding of the final phase of use of the monument and its eventual abandonment. Any artefacts may also have the potential to further our understanding of interactions with other communities in the area and contact with incoming people, such as the Romans. Originally upstanding elements of the monument, such as the bank associated with the ditch, would have been constructed on a contemporary ground surface. Where these buried soils survive, they have the potential to inform our understanding of the environment in which the monument was constructed and of contemporary land use.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located on the crest of a low ridge at around 35m above sea level and on a fertile river flood plain around 220m to the N of the White Cart Water. There is a rise in ground level to the NW of the monument. The relatively flat topography ensures good views in most directions, particularly to the S, SW and SE. This part of Scotland has few lowland prehistoric sites; six of these survive as cropmarks. This may be a result of later land use and the spread of urban areas, but it may also reflect a lower original concentration of such sites. In this case the cropmark is located in a small island of arable land and surrounded by heavily urbanised areas. It is a rare survival in this locality. There are two other similar sites in the region of almost identical form, also both visible as cropmarks. The closest is situated around 10km to the NW at Drumcross, at some 30m above sea level, and has a diameter of 30m and an entrance, 4.5m wide, on the W side. The other example is located around 11 km to the NNW at Ritchieston, at 40m above sea level, and has a diameter of around 33m and a 6.5m wide entrance on the W side.

Excavations of similar cropmark sites elsewhere have revealed the potential for well-preserved archaeological deposits and features. At Shiels, in the parish of Govan around 4 km NNE of Rosshall Mains, an oval enclosure visible as a cropmark was excavated in 1973-4 and revealed evidence for at least one rectangular structure and possible roundhouses, none of which were apparent on the aerial photographs. Radiocarbon dating indicated that the site had been in use from the Iron Age into the early historic period. To the E of Shiels, another large cropmark enclosure, with an enclosing circuit of three enclosing ditches, was excavated in 2001 and again revealed domestic structures within the interior which were not apparent on aerial photographs.

Settlements are the most common form of monument dating to the later prehistoric period and, in SW Scotland, the most frequent recorded type of later prehistoric site is enclosures. The nature of the development of settlement and the relationship between different types of settlement is a major area for research in southern Scotland. The nature and functions of enclosed sites is also little understood, although the archaeological evidence suggests that the majority of enclosures were not actually defensible.

Further analysis of this monument and its comparison with other enclosures in the region may prove contemporaneity and provide evidence of a system of settlement hierarchy. Spatial analysis of unenclosed settlements and other settlement types in the region may further our understanding of settlement location, changes in architectural practice through time, and the structure of society and economy. The monument has the potential to further our understanding of the nature of later prehistoric enclosed settlements.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to contribute to our understanding of later prehistoric sites. Specifically, this monument has the capacity to inform us of a particular settlement type, which characterises certain parts of the later domestic landscape and forms an intrinsic element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern in SW Scotland. Domestic remains and artefacts from settlements have the potential to tell us about wider prehistoric society, its architecture, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contact with. The old ground surfaces sealed by upstanding remains can provide information about what the contemporary environment looked like, how the farmers who lived there managed it, and how field systems may be related to structures. Its importance is increased by its proximity to other monuments of potentially contemporary date and its capacity to inform us about the relationship between these monuments. Spatial analysis of sites may inform our understanding of patterns of landholding and the expansion of settlement. The loss or diminution of this site would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape in Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, and in other parts of Scotland, as well as our knowledge of later prehistoric social structure, economy and building practices.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monument of Scotland record the monument as NS56SW 12. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service Sites and Monuments Record index the site as 8860. Copies of these short reports are appended.

Aerial photographs used:

St Joseph, J K S (1957) Oblique aerial view RE 927 PO Cambridge University Committee for Aerial Photography

St Joseph, J K S (1957) Oblique aerial view RE 928 PO Cambridge University Committee for Aerial Photography

St Joseph, J K S (1957) Oblique aerial view RE 929 PO Cambridge University Committee for Aerial Photography


Alexander, D 1996 Prehistoric Renfrewshire: Papers in Honour of Frank Newall. Renfrewshire Local History Section.

Alexander, D Forthcoming. The Iron Age of West Central Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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