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Philiphaugh, settlement and burial ground 150m south of Calton Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Selkirkshire, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.5459 / 55°32'45"N

Longitude: -2.8639 / 2°51'49"W

OS Eastings: 345589

OS Northings: 628360

OS Grid: NT455283

Mapcode National: GBR 84F9.SS

Mapcode Global: WH7WT.ZVFT

Entry Name: Philiphaugh, settlement and burial ground 150m S of Calton Cottage

Scheduled Date: 31 March 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12981

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard; Secular: settlement, including deserted, depopul

Location: Selkirk

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Selkirkshire

Traditional County: Selkirkshire


The monument comprises the buried remains of an early historic settlement dating probably to around the 7th century AD. Cropmarks visible on aerial photographs indicate the positions of at least seven rectangular timber buildings and a further seven probable buildings with sunken floors, together with part of a substantial rectangular enclosure, a series of curved boundary ditches or enclosures, and an enclosed burial ground with around 90 graves laid out in rows. The monument lies at about 120m above sea level on relatively flat land in the valley of the Ettrick Water. It is sited around 0.7 km west of Selkirk, between the A708 and the Ettrick Water.

The settlement was identified during aerial reconnaissance in July 1989. The rectangular enclosure lies in the N corner of the site and measures at least 55m NW-SE by 40m transversely. Cropmarks show the SE and SW sides of the enclosure, which are formed by double ditches 5m apart. The buried remains of at least four rectangular timber buildings and six probable sunken-floored buildings are also visible in the vicinity or within the footprint of the enclosure. One sunken-floored building intersects with the SW side of the enclosure. The rectangular timber buildings are defined by continuous wall trenches, the most visible of the buildings measuring about 8m ENE-WSW by 6m transversely. Many of the sunken-floored buildings have similar dimensions. Although the structures here have a variety of orientations, many are aligned parallel with or at right angles to the sides of the rectangular enclosure. The burial ground lies about 40m south-east of the rectangular enclosure and measures 40m NW-SE by 30m transversely. Its irregular ditched enclosure has straight sides to the north-west and south-west, but its SE boundary is curved. The graves are neatly laid out in rows. No building is evident within the burial ground. Several curved ditches, perhaps representing a large curvilinear enclosure with an annex, lie 25m south-west of the rectangular enclosure and 70m WSW of the burial ground. The putative enclosure measures at least 95m N-S by 65m transversely, with additional ditches defining a funnel shape adjoining its SE side. The buried remains of at least two rectangular timber buildings and one sunken-floored building lie within this eastern annex, on different alignments but generally trending NE-SW. The remains of another rectangular timber building lie 25m to the ESE.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. On the NE side, the scheduled area extends up to, but excludes, a post-and-wire fence. On the NW side, the scheduling extends up to the edge of the road. The above-ground elements of all fences are specifically excluded from the scheduling to allow for their upkeep and maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

This monument represents an early historic settlement with associated burial ground and so offers very significant potential to compare buildings and artefacts with the buried physical remains of a population that may have used the settlement. The chronological relationship between the different enclosures and buildings is presently unknown, but there is potential for a long development sequence. The large curved enclosure may represent an early feature perhaps relating to the management of cattle or horses, whereas the substantial rectangular enclosure and burial ground may be later. The ditched features on the east side of the curved enclosure may be secondary additions. The visible structures are almost certainly of differing date, and it is very probable that other buried archaeological remains survive but do not show up as cropmarks. Many of the cropmarks are clear and distinct as shown on photographs taken in 1989 and there is excellent potential for the buried archaeology to survive in good condition. The features associated with the buildings offer the potential to understand more about the design, construction, phasing and use of the various structures. This allows researchers to build up a picture of the activities that took place on the site, the physical conditions, and the environment and land cover at the time. The foundation trenches of the house walls may contain evidence relating to the creation, use and abandonment of the structures, helping to inform our understanding of the character of early historic settlement, including local variations in domestic architecture and building use. Other cut features, such as post-holes and pits, may also contain archaeologically significant deposits, including artefacts and palaeoenvironmental evidence, that can further our understanding of society, ritual, economy, agriculture and domestic architecture. The pits of the sunken-floored buildings in particular may have acted as traps for midden material discarded by the settlement's occupants. The potential presence of house remains from different periods means that it may be possible to explore issues such as the duration of house occupation, the extent to which occupation of the site was continuous and the nature of abandonment processes. Burials have the potential to provide further information on the population that lived in the vicinity. They can enhance our knowledge of status and burial practice, but can also reveal evidence for health, diet, illness, and cause of death. The monument may also allow researchers to explore the ethnicity of the inhabitants: for instance, the Ettrick Valley has in the past been regarded as outside the area of early Anglian settlement in southern Scotland, but buildings with continuous wall trenches and sunken floors are viewed as characteristically Anglian in type.

Contextual characteristics

This monument is one of a small group of distinctive early historic settlements in north Northumberland and southern Scotland that have been identified from cropmarks on aerial photographs. The other main sites in this group are at Yeavering, Milfield, Thirlings and Sprouston, each of which is characterised by relatively large rectangular timber-framed buildings, mostly with continuous wall trenches and often with annexes at one or both ends. The Yeavering, Milfield and Thirlings sites cluster near Wooler in the valley of the Till, around 48 km east of Philiphaugh, while Sprouston lies in the Tweed Valley 31 km east of Philiphaugh. At all these sites except Yeavering, the large timber buildings were accompanied by smaller sunken-floored buildings, sometimes known as 'grubenhauser', that may have had a dedicated craft or ancillary function. At a further site, New Bewick, 15 km south of Yeavering, researchers have identified sunken-floored buildings, but as yet no rectangular timber-framed buildings. Excavation at Yeavering, Milfield, Thirlings and New Bewick has proved conclusively that cropmarks of this type do represent the buried remains of buildings of early historic date.

Ditched or palisaded enclosures are known at several of these sites, though the structures are often not sited within the enclosed area. At Milfield, the main buildings lie within a twin-ditched enclosure that may originally have held palisades; but at Sprouston and Yeavering, the settlements were essentially open, although apparently contemporary enclosures, perhaps defining assembly areas, stood next to the main structures. The double-ditched enclosure at Philiphaugh resembles that at Sprouston. The Philiphaugh cropmarks suggest that some buildings were enclosed and others unenclosed, though excavation would be needed to clarify the relationships between the enclosures and structures. Researchers have suggested that post-in-pit buildings (of which there are examples at Sprouston) and palisaded enclosures suggest that some of these sites began as 'British' settlements, but were then taken over by Anglian groups advancing west from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. At Philiphaugh, the large curved enclosure may be relatively early in the occupation sequence and is, perhaps, an Iron Age or British feature; but again excavation would be needed to demonstrate this and to provide evidence for whether occupation was continuous or marked by periods of abandonment. Philiphaugh resembles Sprouston and Yeavering in having evidence for significant cemeteries, which offer the potential to study the status and possibly the geographical and ethnic origins of populations that may have used the settlement.

The settlements at Yeavering and Milfield have been identified as successive Anglian palace sites of the mid 7th century AD, as described by the Venerable Bede who was writing in the early 8th century. Researchers suggest that these two sites, and Sprouston, lay at the top of the settlement hierarchy and functioned as royal centres with administrative and ceremonial functions. They argue that payments in kind from surrounding townships would have been collected and stored at these centres, to be consumed by the royal household during periodic visits. Philiphaugh, with its comparable rectangular timber buildings and rectangular enclosure, may have had a similar function. However, Philiphaugh is intriguing because it lies outside the area of early Anglian settlement identified by 20th-century researchers. The site may represent either rare evidence for the aristocratic take-over of a predominantly British area, or perhaps the adoption of Anglian architectural ideas by British elites.

Associative characteristics

The buried remains at Philiphaugh have the potential to tell us about a critical period in the history of Scotland when Anglians pushed north and west from Northumbria, introducing a Germanic language that was ultimately to contribute to the development of lowland Scots. The scheduled area also includes part of the ground where the battle of Philiphaugh was fought by Covenanter and Royalist Armies in 1645.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular of south-east Scotland between the 6th and 7th centuries AD. The buried remains of buildings and the cemetery have rare potential to tell us about the relationship between the native British and the Angles who were moving west from Northumbria. The monument may help to show whether this area was subject to early Anglian settlement, or whether native peoples adopted Anglian ideas. The cemetery has the potential to allow accurate radiocarbon dating and to reveal information about the people that lived in the settlement and surrounding areas. Study of this settlement can also contribute to our understanding of territorial arrangements and the development of political, economic and religious centres in early historic Scotland. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the influence of the Angles on the formation of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site as NT42NE71. The Scottish Borders Council SMR reference is 2170117.

Aerial Photographs

RCAHMS Photographs B 17483 CN, B 17485 CN, 1989


Smith, IM, 1991 'Sprouston, Roxburghshire; an early Anglian centre of the eastern Tweed Basin', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 121, 261-294.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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